A.J. Hawk Signs with Cincinnati Bengals: What It Means for Vontaze Burfict


As is often the case in the NFL and sports in general, the whispers and wondering became shouts and dollars on Tuesday as the Cincinnati Bengals signed free agent middle linebacker A.J. Hawk to a two-year contract, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.  On the surface, this looks like a depth move only, and that will certainly be the team party line, but there could be something darker at play.  Could the Hawk signing indicate that the Bengals are more worried about Vontaze Burfict than they’ve let on?

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Burfict, who signed a four-year $20.5-million contract before last season, managed to play in just five games in 2014.  A series of head and neck injuries helped keep him off the field last fall, but it’s his left knee that is the real concern now.   After surgery in October failed to relieve the achy joint, Burfict underwent microfracture surgery in January to try and stanch the creeping damage to his cartilage that could end his career.

It’s a long road back from this injury, and the surgery that accompanies it, and some players never make it all the way.

Burfict’s surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, thinks Burfict can do it, as reported by Ian Rapoport:

"I don’t see any reason, if this thing heals like we want and we think it will, why he won’t be back like he was. Microfracture has a bad connotation, but there are plenty of guys who have come back and been able to play like before. But it’s not really news when it works out."

Of course, you would expect the man to be high on his own handiwork.

Even if Burfict does come back, it won’t be until training camp, and there will be an awful lot of rust on his then-untested body.  The Bengals need depth at LB, yes, to spell Burfict as he plays back into game shape.

That is IF he plays back into game shape.  With Hawk in the house, there is a chance the Bengals have read the writing on the wall and signed a (relatively) cheap, big-name replacement.

Next: A.J. Hawk Visiting Cincinnati Bengals Today

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