It took awhile, but it’s finally official.

The Bengals have announced that linebacker Vontaze Burfict has signed a new deal. It puts him under contract through 2017.

Burfict, the NFL’s leading tackler in 2013, was eligible for a new deal because he wasn’t drafted. It’s a strange donut hole in the current labor deal, which forces incoming rookies to wait three years to renegotiate, if drafted.

“Vontaze is a special talent; he has shown us that from his first day here,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “He is a load physically and he’s extremely competitive, but what really makes him stand out is the instinct and feel he has for the game. It’s something born in him, you can’t coach a player to naturally react the way he does in all situations. This signing is a great move for the future of our defense.”