It turns out Vontaze Burfict’s brother had the right idea.
After signing with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Burfict’s brother used to joke with him and ask when his deal was up – only so he could sign with the Oakland Raiders.
“Once Pauly [Guenther] came here, I called my brother like, ‘man, my defensive coordinator left me. He went to Oakland,” said Burfict. “He was like, ‘I told you you’re going to be there one day’, man, and a dream come true.”
As Burfict said – and his brother so accurately predicted – the former Arizona State Sun Devil officially became the newest member of the Silver and Black Tuesday evening, putting pen to paper on a new deal, and while the chance for a fresh start in a new environment intrigued the physical linebacker, ultimately the chance to reunite with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther proved to be integral in his free agent decision.
“He [Guenther] was originally my linebackers coach my rookie year for Cincinnati, and just as soon as I walked in the building, we clicked,” Burfict explained. “He taught me how to play the game in the NFL at a high level, understand the playbook, be a leader, be a vocal leader, understanding where everybody’s at on the defense. It helped me tremendously. Like I said, when he left, I felt like a lost soul.”
And while the two are now reunited in the East Bay, the pair haven’t lacked communication, as Burfict reached out regularly to Guenther over the past year.
In talking with Burfict, it’s obvious that he has an affection and a respect for the Raiders defensive coordinator, so what is it exactly about Guenther that has inspired this type of loyalty from the newest member of the Silver and Black?
Get to know linebacker Vontaze Burfict who joins the Raiders after spending his first seven seasons (2012-18) with the Cincinnati Bengals.
“He’s a player’s coach,” Burfict said of Guenther. “He understands how to get his players to play. He understands how to coach his players – in the NFL, you have different types of characteristics from different players, so he knows how to [connect] with everybody. His scheme is very difficult, but once you get it down pat, everybody gets it down pat, then everybody plays at a fast level.”
Burfict now joins a linebacking corps that will look to take a step forward in 2019, and while he doesn’t necessarily feel like he has something to prove, Burfict no doubt wants to put his best foot forward in his new football home.
“I feel like it’s a new slate, new chapter in my life,” he said. “I have Pauly G back. I’m excited for it, man.”
He continued, “It’s a blessing, man. All I can do is thank God, because yesterday I got cut, and today I’m picked up.”