The Cincinnati Bengals might very well decide at some point that former Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict is not worth the headache.
Already seen as one of the dirtier players in the NFL, Burfict will start his third consecutive season under suspension. Only this time, he’s banned four games for violating the league’s policy against performance enhancing drugs.
Despite this, the Bengals say they have no intention of releasing the embattled linebacker.
“It’s not ideal,” Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “The situation he has put us in is not ideal. We are a player-oriented business. Players that can make a difference are important and we recognize that. The more he’s not available to us the more it hurts us.”
It sounds like Cincinnati is simply providing another warning to Burfict without doing anything of substance. When asked if the team has had conversations about releasing Burfict, Tobin responded in the affirmative with a pretty strong caveat.
“Do we have conversations on that a lot? Sure, we have conversations on that a lot,” Tobin said. “But at the end of the day we are a player-oriented business and the players are the ones that win or lose for us. We try to collect as many players that can help us win. That’s our job. That’s what we do. That’s our responsibility as an organization: To try to put the best football team on the field that we possibly can.”
Despite injury and suspension issues, Burfict remains the Bengals’ top linebacker. The team has proven over and over again that it values on-field production over character. Apparently, that’s not going to change here.