Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict set a record during the 2019 and it wasn’t a good one. He was given the longest suspension for a player for on-the-field conduct in the history of the NFL when he was suspended for 12 games after an illegal hit against Colts tight end Jack Doyle. It was far from his first infraction, which played a role in his unusually long suspension.
Though Burfict is certainly on thin ice, his career isn’t necessarily over just yet. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the linebacker has been reinstated and is taking steps to change how he plays.
“Vontaze has spent the entire offseason studying and learning the proper code of conduct for participation in the NFL,” Burfict’s agent Peter Schaffer, via Pelissero. “He has watched tape, talked with coaches and NFL experts doing everything he can to conform his passionate play to the rules of the NFL. This is a serious issue not only for Vontaze but all players and he is serious about doing things the right way and being a leader in playing football the right way.
By most accounts, Burfict is a well-liked teammate and isn’t intentionally malicious. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s dished out some very ugly hits.
Will Raiders Give Him Another Chance?
Burfict’s time with the Raiders was brief, but the team likes him. When he was hit with his suspension, the team strongly defended him and did all they could to repeal the ruling. While he still should have plenty left in the tank, the Raiders may not be interested in bringing him back, according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur:
Vontaze Burfict started four games before he was suspended for the rest of the season because of a dirty hit (it wasn’t that bad of a hit; the ban was more of a lifetime achievement award). The Raiders liked him a lot, but it seems unwise to bring him back knowing that the league office alarms go off every time he makes a tackle.
It’s true that Burfict is likely one bad hit away from a lifetime ban. Losing him for the season hurt the Raider defense and it’s doubtful they would be willing to rely on him heading into 2020. If they decide to bring him back for another season, they should make sure to have a strong backup plan in case something goes wrong.
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Could Another Team Be Interested?
If the Raiders pass on Burfict, he’s going to have a really hard time finding a new team. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is his biggest defender and he’s probably the only guy who would be willing to give the linebacker another chance. Not only will the suspension factor into whether or not teams want to bring in Burfict, but the fact that he has a reputation as a dirty player could not sit well in many locker rooms.
At his best, Burfict is a Pro Bowl level talent, so it’s possible a team takes a look at him. That said, his best chance at playing another NFL game is with the silver and black.