CINCINNATI -- Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season for repeated violations of player-safety rules, the NFL announced Monday night. The fourth-year player will appeal, a source told ESPN's Adam Caplan. In a news release, the league cited Burfict's most recent transgression -- an unnecessary roughness penalty with 22 seconds remaining in Saturday's AFC wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers -- as the tipping point. On the play, Burfict hit Steelers receiver Antonio Brown after Brown couldn't catch a high pass from Ben Roethlisberger. Brown currently is under the concussion protocol because of the hit. NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks imposed the suspension. Hanks' ruling was that Burfict's action "placed his opponent at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided." If the ban is upheld, it will cost Burfict $502,941 of his 2016 base salary, and he will have forfeited $647,395 since just before the 2014 season, when he signed a four-year, $20 million contract extension. Burfict wasn't present Monday during an open interview session while Bengals players were cleaning out their lockers. Coach Marvin Lewis said during a news conference early in the day that he didn't think Burfict ever went over the edge during the season. "He can't have that kind of blow with the guy that's receiving the pass," Lewis said. "But it didn't go over the edge for the course of the season. He's had three penalties this season for unnecessary roughness. ... Let's not take things out of context, and understand it. Let's judge the body of work." Lewis did acknowledge the negative reputation Burfict has earned for his style of play. "Unfortunately, we earned some reputations, and we have to eliminate that by continuing to play well within the rules, with the way he plays," Lewis said. "And he plays very well within the rules, and we have to keep doing that." Burfict was the most heavily fined player in the chippy Dec. 13 meeting between the Bengals and Steelers. Seven players from the teams drew fines amounting to nearly $140,000, but Burfict had to pay nearly half that in three fines for three incidents during the game. Burfict also played a role in a pregame scuffle between the teams at midfield. No penalties were levied for that fracas. According to the NFL, Burfict was also fined $50,000 for "unnecessarily contacting an opponent who was out of the play" against the Baltimore Ravens in the season finale. That occurred six days before Saturday's wild-card game against the Steelers. The NFL said the conduct of other players and coaches in Saturday's game is being reviewed for potential discipline. Cincinnati defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, whom Burfict took to the Pro Bowl in 2013, when he made it to that game for the first time, said he believes his player feels remorse over the way Saturday's game ended. Burfict's penalty, along with one from Adam Jones during an injury timeout, led to the Bengals' being slapped with 30 yards in penalties before a 35-yard chip shot gave the Steelers an 18-16 win. "I'm sure he feels bad about it," Guenther said. "He's hurting right now. Everyone's hurting. Everyone's feeling bad about this game because we had it won." @King55Tez's Tweets are protected. Only confirmed followers have access to @King55Tez's Tweets and complete profile. Click the "Follow" button to send a follow request.