Four weeks into the season and it’s clear the Las Vegas Raiders didn’t do enough to improve the defense in the offseason. Everybody thought the secondary would be the problem and while it’s been bad, the defensive line and linebacker corps have also been mediocre. There is talent to be found on the defense but they just can’t figure it out.
Perhaps the Raiders could look to a familiar face to try and bring some juice to a pretty lifeless group. According to a recent Instagram post, NFL free agent linebacker Vontaze Burfict was in Las Vegas.
Burfict was the team’s starting middle linebacker to start last season and was chosen to be a team captain. Unfortunately, he was suspended for the majority of the season for an illegal hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle.
While it looked like his NFL career was probably done after that hit, Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has always been a champion of Burfict’s. It’s important to keep in mind that Las Vegas is a global hub for tourists so the linebacker could just be visiting for fun. That said, it’s also very interesting that he’d decide to visit right now during the pandemic.
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Signing Burfict Might Not Be a Bad Idea
A lot of people might cringe at the idea of Burfict getting another shot but it might actually not be the worst idea in the world. There probably isn’t a single player in the NFL that is more familiar with Guenther and his defense. Plus, Burfict did play decently well during the several games he played for the Raiders in 2019.
They wouldn’t even need to put him on the active roster. He could go on the practice squad and serve as a player assistant type of thing for Guenther. Also, the Raiders have already had injury issues with their starting middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. If he misses any more time this season, the team could certainly do worse than having Burfict takeover.
Burfict Has Been Reinstated
Another factor that would lend credence to the idea that Burfict could be reuniting with the Raiders is that he’s already been reinstated to the NFL. It was reported back in February that Burfict is now free to return and has been staying in shape. There probably aren’t many teams that would be interested in him considering his baggage but the Raiders were always staunch defenders of his.
Both Guenther and head coach Jon Gruden went after the NFL a number of times for their decision to suspend Burfict for the whole season. They clearly don’t believe he’s a dirty player like many around the league do. The linebacker is probably one more ugly hit away from a lifetime ban but the Raiders won’t need to worry about that if he’s on the practice squad. Adding him in that capacity seems like a win-win situation.