The Cincinnati Bengals officially signed Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Wednesday to a contract extension running through the 2017 season.
Burfict's original contract ran through this season, and had that contract run out, he would have been a restricted free agent for 2015.
As previously reported, the contract is for four year and worth $20.05 million. The deal has a $19 million base salary and additional incentives for Pro Bowl appearances. His 2014 salary will be $7.6 million
Bypassed by NFL teams in the 2012 draft, Burfict has established himself as one of the most productive college free agent signees by any NFL team in recent years. He has led the Bengals in tackles in each of his two seasons.
Burfict has played outside linebacker but had a breakout season in 2013, leading the NFL in tackles with 171 as a middle linebacker. He has started 30 of 32 regular-season games in the past two seasons.
Burfict signed a three-year, $1.441 million rookie contract in 2012 with the Bengals after he was undrafted because of concerns about his character and a subpar combine performance.
Burflict was credited by the Bengals coaching staff last season with 204 tackles, 94 more than the second-place player, and he was voted to the Pro Bowl and to a second-team spot on the Associated Press All-Pro team.
"Vontaze is a special talent; he has shown us that from his first day here," head coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement. "He is a load physically (6-foot-1, 255 pounds) and he's extremely competitive, but what really makes him stand out is the instinct and feel he has for the game. It's something born in him, you can't coach a player to naturally react the way he does in all situations. This signing is a great move for the future of our defense."
Burfict also led the Bengals last season in tackles-for-loss (eight), and he tied for the front-seven lead in passes defensed (10). He had 3.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
"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."
Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said, "It's unusual to sign a player this early in his career to a contract extension, but Vontaze is a player who merits this. He has proven to be an exceptional find for us, and we are happy to reward him now for his accomplishments. It's good for him and good for our team."