Vontaze Burfict’s 2019 season was brief, just four games.
In that fourth game, the veteran linebacker – in his first season with the Raiders – made what was ruled an illegal hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, and eventually was suspended for the rest of the season.
Burfict, 29, has a history of hits that have been ruled illegal, so the NFL came down hard on him in 2019, and the Raiders lost a key player they believed would help solidify their defense.
Now, with Burfict’s one-year deal with the Raiders expired, the linebacker’s future with the Raiders is uncertain.
Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports reported this week that the NFL has reinstated Burfict, and he will be eligible to sign a new deal and play in the NFL in 2020.
Reported Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network: “Burfict was quietly reinstated from his suspension last month. The veteran linebacker has been working out – and working in a variety of ways to clean up his play – in hopes of returning to the NFL for 2020 and beyond.”
Schwab reports the Raiders have supported Burfict throughout his 2019 troubles, with the franchise believing the suspension was too long. But that doesn’t mean the Raiders want him back, wrote Schwab. Even before 2019, the list of suitors for Burfict as a free agent wasn’t long because of history of violent hits on opponents.
Wrote Schwab: “The Raiders signed Burfict to a modest one-year deal worth $2 million, with only $300,000 guaranteed. There wasn’t more interest in Burfict, who will be a free agent again, because of his history. Another dirty hit and another suspension won’t help him get more interest as a free agent even though he’s just 29 years old.
“It’s impossible to depend on him, knowing he can’t help himself with illegal hits and the next suspension will be an even longer one. Burfict can play again in the NFL. He might have a tough time finding a team that will sign him.”
Still, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN doesn’t count out the Raiders from giving him one more shot this offseason. He says “watch out” for the franchise giving him a new deal.
“Paul Guenther was his defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and with Oakland,” said Fowler. “That’s a natural fit.”