The Bengals just placed Tyler Eifert on Injured Reserve on Monday, and now it appears he may be heading for the surgery table.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, surgery has been suggested for Eifert this offseason to correct an issue with his back.
A league source said Eifert is dealing with a disc problem in his back, and his discomfort has increased of late. Multiple league sources informed The Enquirer that surgery has been recommended to correct the problem, but the expectation is that his 2017 season is not in any jeopardy.
If Eifert does end up having surgery and missing most of offseason workouts, it’s hard to see the Bengals giving him a new deal anytime soon. 2017 is the final year of his contract, but it will be difficult to give him an extension while recovering from a significant surgical procedure, something he’s having annually now. The franchise tag is also an option for Eifert in 2018.
After dislocating his elbow in the first game of the 2014 season (after also injuring his shoulder in offseason workouts leading up to that season), Eifert later had shoulder surgery that kept him out for a good portion of the 2015 offseason, but he still returned in time for training camp that year.
Then Eifert suffered an ankle injury in the 2016 Pro Bowl, which led to offseason surgery that caused him to miss the start of the 2016 season. He missed four games due to the ankle injury before missing two more games with a back strain.
It’s unclear if the disc problem Eifert now has is related to the back strain he suffered in Week 5 while working out in preparation for the Cowboys game. Regardless, surgery appears to be coming to fix the issue, which means we’re in for another offseason of Eifert injury watch, for the third straight year.
On one hand, this could help the Bengals re-sign Eifert to a more team-friendly deal if they do offer him an extension at some point. They usually like to get extensions done during training camp, so as long as Eifert is back by then, the chances of a new deal increase significantly.
In eight games this season, Eifert caught 39 passes for 394 yards and five touchdowns. He now has 18 touchdowns over his last 21 games. He was a big reason why the Bengals went 3-3-1 from Weeks 7-14 vs 2-6 in every other game. If he’s healthy and in the lineup for all 16 games, the Bengals likely would have been a much better team this season, with a more effective offense. Eifert is a highly talented playmaker and a key part of the Bengals’ offense, but unfortunately, he’s been injured far too often. He's played 37 regular season games, and 1 playoff game and has missed 28 regular season games and 2 playoff games since joining the Bengals as a first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. In total, he’s played 38 of a possible 68 Bengals games including the playoffs, since entering the league.
After Eifert missed half of the Bengals’ games this season, Cincinnati is left with a likely top-10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Here’s to hoping Eifert has a speedy recovery and enters the 2017 NFL season healthy and ready to shine.