The Cincinnati Bengals and All-Pro linebacker Vontaze Burfict have agreed to a contract extension, reports said.
The deal is a four-year extension that runs through 2017 and is worth $20 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Burfict, who signed with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State in 2012, had been scheduled to make $570,000 this season in the final year of his rookie deal, although the Bengals could have retained him as a restricted free agent next year and used the franchise tag on him in 2016.
Originally projected to be a first- or second-round draft pick, Burfict plummeted down teams’ draft boards following a junior season plagued with personal foul penalties and weight issues, a poor workout at the NFL Combine and a failed drug test ahead of the draft.
But since signing with the Bengals immediately after the draft, Burfict has been incident-free and one of the team’s best defensive players. He played in all 16 games as rookie, starting the final 14 after weakside linebacker Thomas Howard blew out his knee.
He led the team in tackles as a rookie and led the NFL in tackles last year while starting all 16 games and earning a Pro Bowl berth. Burfict also had three sacks, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a forced fumble in 2014.
The Bengals are expected to make the contract extension official today.
Atkins ready: It appears as though All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins will see his first game action since tearing his ACL 10 months ago when the team plays Arizona in a preseason game on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Atkins participated in 11-on-11 drills Wednesday and he expects him to be in for at least a couple of series against the Cardinals.
“It will be good to have all 11 out there at once,” Guenther said after practice. “Everything is coming along as planned. (It will be good) for him to get in with some live situations and stuff like that and get his confidence back up. I’m sure he’s anxious to get back in there playing with the guys.”
Right tackle Andre Smith also thinks he will see his first preseason snaps after going through the league’s concussion protocol after taking a blow to the head during a training camp practice July 28.
“Right now, yeah, I think so,” Smith said. “But it’s up to ( head coach Marvin Lewis).”
Smith said he could start the regular season opener in Baltimore without getting any preseason work, but that it wouldn’t be ideal.
“I would much rather have a game to work on those things,” he said. “You need to get tired at least one time in a preseason game to really blow your lungs out. That’s going to be one of the key things to take out of the preseason, is just getting really tired to know what to expect in the regular season during a 13-, 14-play drive.”
Tight end Tyler Eifert (shoulder), quarterback Jason Campbell (elbow), defensive ends Wallace Gilberry (leg) and Dontay Moch (undisclosed), wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher (undisclosed), wide receiver James Wright (hip) and guard Mike Pollak (knee) practiced Wednesday after missing Monday.
Among those not practicing were defensive back Darqueze Dennard (hip), running back Rex Burkhead (knee) and linebackers Burfict (ill) and J.K. Schaffer (head).