The Cincinnati Bengals have made their agreement with linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a new four-year contract official, keeping the 2013 Pro Bowl selection under team control through the 2017 season.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported last week that Burfict, Cincinnati's leading tackler in each of the last two seasons and one of the club's most important defenders, will earn a guaranteed $7.6 million for this coming season and can make up to $20 million over the life of the new deal.
The third-year pro had been slated to receive just $570,000 in 2014, the final year of his original rookie contract, before becoming a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the season.
"It's great to have this deal done and know I'm going to be here beyond this season," Burfict said. "We can have a great defense again this year, even better than the last couple years."
The move is a strong show of faith in a player who was not chosen in the 2012 draft due to character concerns and off-field issues. Burfict has stayed out of trouble during his first two NFL seasons, however, while emerging into an impact performer who has helped the Bengals to back-to-back playoff appearances.
Burfict started 14 games as a rookie and finished his debut campaign with 127 tackles and a sack. He topped those numbers last season, amassing 171 stops, three sacks and an interception while starting all 16 contests.
"It's unusual to sign a player this early in his career to a contract extension, but Vontaze is a player who merits this," said Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn. "He has proven to be an exceptional find for us, and we are happy to reward him now for his accomplishments. It's good for him and good for our team."