Linebacker Vontaze Burfict is working this offseason to adapt his play to fit modern NFL rules on player safety after serving a 12-game suspension in 2019 for committing another helmet-to-helmet hit, his agent told NFL Network.
The 29-year-old defender played just four games for the Oakland Raiders last season before a collision with Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle got Burfict ejected, later earning him the longest suspension in NFL history for an on-field incident.
"Vontaze has spent the entire offseason studying and learning the proper code of conduct for participation in the NFL. He has watched tape, talked with coaches and NFL experts, doing everything he can to conform his passionate play to the rules," agent Peter Schaffer told NFL Network. "This is a serious issue not only for Vontaze but all players, and he is serious about doing things the right way and being a leader."
Vontaze Burfict was quietly reinstated from his suspension last month. The veteran linebacker has been working out — and working in a variety of ways to clean up his play — in hopes of returning to the NFL for 2020 and beyond. @nflnetworkpic.twitter.com/1kc80D1pea
The NFL cited Burfict's previous violations as the reason for his record-setting suspension. He was previously suspended for three games in 2016 after an illegal hit to Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in a 2015 playoff game. A subsequent five-game suspension for his blindside block on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman during a preseason game was reduced to three to start the 2017 season.
Burfict also served a four-game suspension in 2018 for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
Since entering the league in 2012, Burfict has accumulated over $5.3 million in fines and forfeited salary.
Despite being named an All-American in 2010, Burfict went undrafted in 2012 but signed as a free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals, with whom he played the first seven years of his career. His best season came in 2013, when he led the NFL with 171 combined tackles and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
He will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
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