This could be the last year Bengals fans witness Vontaze Burfict in Orange & Black. But, is that something that truly needs to happen?
If you haven’t been paying attention to the current affairs of the Bengals, it may come as a surprise. But, if you’re a diehard fan that stays on top of the happenings, you may be wondering why this is even an issue. Vontaze Burfict will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2017 season. The Bengals have time to work things out with Burfict, but it has to start now.
Like it or not, Burfict is one of the best things that’s happened to Cincinnati. When he brought his fiery brand of football to the banks of Ohio, he ignited a passion in the defense that hasn’t been seen since…Tim Krumrie. You remember that guy, right? He was the nose tackle who broke his leg in Super Bowl XXIII but wanted to keep playing. Yeah, fans and Krumrie knew it was impossible (rubber band leg). But, that’s how passionate he was about the game.
That’s how Burfict plays the game of football. His passion and dedication spills over to the other members of the Bengals’ defense and makes them better. No, those are not the words of an enamored writer with a man crush on Burfict. His teammates are on the same wavelength.
Not The Untouchables…But Close
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Football is a game of hits, bruises and near catastrophes. Any time a player puts on a uniform and snaps the chinstrap on his helmet, he’s suiting up for violent contact. No, that doesn’t mean go out and willfully end another player’s career. But, that’s the underlying nature of the game. It can happen. So, take the dirty player jokes elsewhere.
I’ve stated in the past that Marvin Lewis has been searching for his reincarnation of Ray Lewis. Well, Burfict is the man. He plays with a chip on his shoulder in the same mold as Ray did. Adam Jones feels the same way.
"“I don’t have no problem with the emotion,” Jones said, via ESPN. “Quite frankly, I think we need more guys with some more emotions. Do we need to control them at certain times? Yeah. But the man is being paid to be a hired hitman. There’s only a couple linebackers that play with that type of aggression. Those are the great ones. Go back and look at it. I’m not saying Ray Lewis was a dirty player or anything, but him and Vontaze have the same characteristics. Exactly the same.”"
Jones may not be your “model citizen” off the field, but he speaks the truth. Sometimes, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
Act While The Fire Is Hot
If the Bengals decide to play the waiting game, there could be serious complications. Rex Burkhead wanted to stay in Cincy. He’s gone. Reggie Nelson had a Pro Bowl-caliber year with the Raiders. The age factor played a huge part in allowing his departure. But, Burfict is in the prime of his career. He’s the heart and soul of the Bengals’ defense.
When Kevin Minter was signed, my first thought was about a replacement for Burfict. Yup. Paranoia set in. But, since the Bengals have made no move to sign Burfict, could it be a possibility? With the selection of Carl Lawson in the draft and Nick Vigil making strides, is Burfict one mistake away from not being in Orange and Black?
As a Bengals fan, I’m keeping the faith. Lewis and company have found their wild man. Burfict is poised to have one of his best seasons for Cincinnati. Letting him go to the highest bidder would be asinine. But, we’ve seen money do that to Mike Brown.
If Vontaze is allowed to test the FA waters, it’s a done deal. Teams that claim to hate him will throw cash at his feet. Brown has said he likes his style. There eventually has to be an end to the Scrooge McDuck impersonation. Hopefully, it ends with Burfict.