The Cincinnati Bengals are looking smart by locking up linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a four-year contract. Burfict looks pretty smart, too.
The $20 million deal, reached this week, jumps Burfict's scheduled salary for 2014 from $570,000 to $7.6 million, plus a $2 million bonus in March. Burfict entered the league as an undrafted free agent, depressing his value, but he has emerged as one of the NFL's best linebackers.
He could have played out this year and been a restricted free agent, but, as reported by Cincinnati.com, the best Burfict would have ended up with over two years was less than half of what he'll get via salary and bonus before next season.
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And even when this new contract ends after the 2017 season, Burfict can look ahead to being on the market right before the season when he turns 28, at a great age – barring injury – to land a huge free-agent deal.
“He'll still hold multiple prime years in his future and can take a huge second bite of the apple,” Cincinnati.com's Paul Dehner Jr. writes. “Most players just hope to be shy of 30 for their second large contract.”
Meanwhile, the Bengals have one of their defensive cornerstones taken care of over the next few seasons, at what passes for a reasonable rate in the NFL. Both sides have security, and that's one fewer player to have contract chatter about.
As Dehner writes, “It made too much sense not to get done.”