Vontaze Burfict to miss start of Cincinnati Bengals season for third year running

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict will miss the start of the NFL regular season for the third successive year after losing his appeal against a four-game suspension.

Burfict has been suspended without pay for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, confirming a suspension initially meted out in March.

The suspension could even mark the end of Burfict’s time in Cincinnati after it recently emerged they had briefly been in trade talks with the Oakland Raiders before news of the impending discipline broke.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport also reports that the $11.3m guaranteed portion of Burfict’s $33m three-year contract with the Bengals will become void because of the suspension.

Burfict missed the start of the 2016 season for multiple violations of the NFL’s player safety rules, including a hit that left Pittsburgh Steelers Antonio Brown dealing with a concussion.

Last season he was ruled out for three more games, cut down from an initial five-game sanction, for a hit on Kansas City Chiefs full-back Anthony Sherman during a pre-season match.

Burfict has also been fined on multiple occasions for hits deemed to be dangerous and unsportsmanlike conduct during games.