Burfict joins Raiders, says AB pairing ‘all positive’

The Oakland Raiders have signed Vontaze Burfict to a one-year contract, a day after the veteran linebacker was released by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The deal is worth up to $5 million, according to NFL Network.

With the Raiders, the 28-year-old Burfict will reunite with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who held the same role with the Bengals from 2014 to 2017.

Burfict also will be a new teammate of wideout Antonio Brown, and the two have a history.

This past season, Brown caught a pass over the middle and was tackled by two Bengals defenders when Burfict flew in with his right elbow, connecting with the then-Steelers receiver’s upper body and head area. Brown was down on the turf for a few seconds and was evaluated by the team on the sideline before re-entering the game. Afterward, Brown called the play a “nasty hit.”

The play, as well as another on during that game involving Steelers running back James Conner, led to $112,000 in fines that week for Burfict, who has been fined more than $415,000 in his career. Burfict also was suspended three games for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Brown during a 2016 playoff game.

Burfict downplayed any lingering tension between the players.

“We’re on the same team,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s one goal. It’s all positive, man. He’s a great player. … I’m going to approach him just like I do all my other teammates. … There’s nothing negative here. We’re on the same team. We’re trying to win a championship here.”

Guenther’s ties to Burfict date back to the linebacker’s rookie season in 2012, when Guenther was his linebackers coach. Burfict had one of the best seasons of his career in 2013, when he made his only Pro Bowl.

Guenther took over as Cincy’s defensive coordinator in 2014, and he has been one of Burfict’s biggest supporters throughout his career, defending him publicly after several of the linebacker’s fines and suspensions. A source said that the Raiders inquired about trading for Burfict last year due to Guenther’s ties to him, but the Bengals said Burfict was not available.

Guenther clearly didn’t give up, as Burfict was in the Raiders’ facility and signed within 24 hours of his release from Cincinnati. Burfict told local reporters that Guenther was the second person after his mother whom he called when the Bengals released him.

Last season, Burfict had 33 tackles in seven games with the Bengals, but he missed several games due to injuries, including a hip issue and two concussions toward the end of the season. He was suspended for the first four games of 2018 after violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Information from ESPN’s Katherine Terrell was used in this report.

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