CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict signed a three-year extension on Wednesday that runs through the 2017 season and will pay him a maximum of $20.05 million.
The two sides agreed to the deal last week. Burfict is entering the final year on his original deal that will pay him a salary of $570,000. Under his extension, he’ll make $10 million through next summer in salary and bonuses.
Burfict is the leader of a defense that finished third in the NFL last season in yards allowed.
“It’s great to have this deal done and know I’m going to be here beyond this season,” Burfict said. “We can have a great defense again this year, even better than the last couple years.”
Burfict is expected to sit out the Bengals’ final preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium. He pulled his right hamstring on Sunday against Arizona.
His extension comes three weeks after the Bengals got quarterback Andy Dalton — also entering the final year on his original deal — under contract through 2020 for up to $115 million.
“It’s unusual to sign a player this early in his career to a contract extension, but Vontaze is a player who merits this,” said Katie Blackburn, the team’s executive vice president.
The linebacker wasn’t drafted in 2012 after a career at Arizona State that included repeated penalties and punishments for personal fouls.
A low point came in 2010 game when Burfict head-butted Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz. Later, he was benched during a game for getting two personal fouls in the first half.
A poor showing at the combine frightened teams away. The Bengals signed him for a minimal contract and he was a starter by the end of his rookie season.
He led the team in tackles 12 times last season. He was honored as the AFC’s defensive player of the week for a 15-tackle performance against Cleveland that included a fumble return for a touchdown and made his first Pro Bowl.
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