Linebacker Vontaze Burfict deserves a massive contract, and the Cincinnati Bengals are rightfully going to provide their Pro Bowler with just that. The question isn’t whether the Bengals will give Burfict that extension, the question is just how large that extension will be.
Let’s work backward by beginning with a prediction for his contract: seven years, $63.7 million.
Burfict is the undeniable heart and soul of one of the league’s best defenses — he knows that, the fans know that and (most importantly) the Bengals front office knows that. At 23 years old, Burfict posses the skill and youth that will require such a large contract. The first major contract for Burfict won’t reach the size of players such as Clay Matthews ($13.2 million per year), but it will come close in terms of overall value. A more comparable contract to look at would be that signed by Patrick Willis with the San Francisco 49ers. Willis signed a $55 million extension that pays the star linebacker $10 million per season.
While Willis received $20.3 million in guaranteed money, it is conceivable that Burfict will receive just a little more than that for his new deal. The $21-$25 million range in guaranteed money seems quite probable for the Bengals. Such a contract would make Burfict one of the highest paid linebackers in the league, pairing him with Geno Atkins as two of the highest paid defenders.
For the Bengals, this is another step in the direction they chose to take their franchise in 2011 — build from within and spend cap space on the players developed in-house. By doing so, the Bengals have created one of the deepest rosters without over-paying for veteran free agents. In keeping Burfict, the Bengals ensure consistency from their defense for the foreseeable future.