The Cincinnati Bengals have some big contract decisions looming, with quarterback Andy Dalton and linebacker Vontaze Burfict both deserving raises. For Burfict, the contract situation may be more urgent.
When Burfict hits free agency, there is a wide belief that he could be one of the most sought after linebackers and could demand around $9 million per year, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
That is a huge pay raise for a guy who began his career as an undrafted free agent.
Burfict was ranked the 52nd best player in the NFL by fellow players in the NFL Network special this offseason.
The Bengals could buy themselves some time if they use a first-round tender on the linebacker when he becomes a restricted free agent, but it would be best to sort out contract details as soon as possible so they do not run the risk of losing one of their key defenders (or tying up cap space that could be used to extend Dalton).
Cincinnati's best move -- and the fair move for Burfict -- would be to reward his play with a long-term extension. Burfict is under contract for $570,000 this season.