"As we continue to build our roster for the 2019 season, we felt it best to give both the team and Vontaze a fresh start," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said in a statement. "Vontaze has been a good player here -- the team appreciates that, and I know a lot of fans appreciate that -- but our focus is on the future. Our goal is to build a successful team for the upcoming season, and we felt that making this change now was best for everyone."
Burfict, 28, has missed 18 games over the past three seasons and wasn't considered a lock to return to the team despite signing a three-year extension worth more than $38 million before the 2017 season. He has been with the Bengals for seven seasons.
He was suspended by the NFL to start the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons and has found himself in the league's doghouse several times for his style of play. The NFL suspended him for three games to start the 2016 season for multiple violations of the league's player safety policy, and he initially received a five-game suspension in 2017 for a preseason hit on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman, which was reduced to three games on appeal.
Burfict was suspended to start the 2018 season because of a violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy and struggled to regain the form he showed in 2015, the year he received his lone Pro Bowl berth. Burfict had a hip issue last season in addition to multiple concussions. In December, he suffered the seventh known concussion of his NFL career and second in a three-week period.
While the Bengals have been reluctant to part ways with veterans in the past, especially with those who would accelerate dead money into their salary cap, that has changed in recent years. The Bengals did not pick up the team option on Adam Jones' contract last spring, and they cut veteran wideout Brandon LaFell and starting safety George Iloka.
Burfict had two seasons remaining on the contract extension he signed, with most of that money tied up in base salary. The Bengals are on the hook for $1.8 million in dead money in 2018 after cutting Burfict, but that figure could drop to $903,000 if they designate him a post-June 1 cut.
ESPN's Katherine Terrell contributed to this report.