If nothing else, the latest Vontaze Burfict suspension isn’t a total surprise to the Bengals, as they’re accustomed to being without him.
The linebacker has missed 29 of a possible 66 games the last four years because of suspensions and injuries, so the four he’ll miss at the start of the season because of a PED violation is just another log on an already blazing fire (it will be the third straight season he’s missed at least the first three games).
“Our focus is on having the best 2018 we can and we feel Vontaze helps us do that, . . .” Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn said. “Vontaze is well-liked and respected in the locker room. The players know that a) he’s a special player and b) he’s a really smart football player. I don’t think there is going to be a negative that way. The negative is going to be lost time. When you are not there you are not helping the team win.”
And yet, they continue to prop him up, hoping his play when eligible is enough to make a difference.
Dalton signed a six-year, $96 million extension almost four years ago, which has him under contract through 2020. His $13.9 million base salary ranks 21st in the league for 2018, according to overthecap.com, and his per year average of $16 million also ranks 21st.
Dalton, though, isn’t complaining. He’s good with his deal.
“I’m still a couple of years away from my contract being up,” Dalton said. “It’s what I agreed to. It’s what I signed, so we’re going to let it all play out how it’s supposed to.”
Bengals Vice President Troy Blackburn said the team has no thoughts of extending Dalton this year, and Dalton said he didn’t expect a new deal this year.
“I wouldn’t expect it to happen this year,” Dalton said after being asked about Blackburn’s comment. “There are other guys that will be free agents next year that are a priority. We’ll see. That’s not what I’m thinking about. I’m not thinking about the contract for sure.”