Vontaze Burfict gets 3-year deal

CINCINNATI -- It took an extra week, but Vontaze Burfict's contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals is finally official.

The Bengals agreed Wednesday to a three-year extension with the linebacker that will keep him in stripes through the 2017 season.

"It's great to have this deal done and know I'm going to be here beyond this season," Burfict said after signing the deal Wednesday. "We can have a great defense again this year, even better than the last couple years."

Last season, the Bengals' defense ranked third in the league. Despite changing coordinators this offseason, expectations are that the unit could perform as well as, if not better than, it did in 2013.

As he entered the third and final season of his rookie deal, Burfict was scheduled to make $570,000 this year. The low figure was the result of him going undrafted out of Arizona State in 2012.

"It's unusual to sign a player this early in his career to a contract extension, but Vontaze is a player who merits this," Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said. "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."

With 298 career tackles in 32 regular-season games, Burfict has been arguably the Bengals' best defender since he has been in Cincinnati. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has often praised his football intelligence and credits Burfict for knowing the system better than any other player on the team. Burfict had a league-high 171 tackles last year.