With news that Tyler Eifert could miss the start of the 2016 season, the Cincinnati Bengals would be wise to kick the tires on several free agent tight ends in the coming weeks.
They've already signed fullback/h-back Andrew Bonnet to help pick up the slack, but he's not the kind of true tight end the Bengals need to help offset the loss of the Pro Bowler in Eifert. There are some notable names still on the free agent market who could help the Bengals if they want to add another tight end.
Here's a look at some of the best tight ends still available to be signed.
The Bengals have already signed one former Patriot cut this offseason in Brandon LaFell. Why not go after another in Scott Chandler?
Chandler, a former standout for the Buffalo Bills, caught 23 passes for 259 yards last season and saw his role diminish down the stretch after seeing an increased role when Rob Gronkowski was injured in the middle of the season. From 2011-14 with Buffalo, Chandler caught 273 passes for 2,112 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The Bills moved on from Chandler as they signed Pro Bowl tight end/h-back Charles Clay in 2015, leading Chandler to sign with New England and be the No. 2 tight end behind All-Pro Gronkowski.
While Chandler may not be quite as good as he was during his time in Buffalo, he's still got enough left in the tank to be an effective weapon for the Bengals and help overcome the loss of Eifert for a few games.
At one time, Tony Moeaki looked like one of the NFL's best young tight ends as he was a featured weapon in the Kansas City Chiefs offense. In his first and second years in the league (2010, 2012), Moeaki caught 80 passes for 1,009 yards and four scores across 30 games.
That also came with Moeaki missing the 2011 season after suffering an injury during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. He bounced back nicely in 2012, but after fracturing his shoulder in the 2013 preseason, Moeaki was waived and eventually became a free agent.
Since then, Moeaki has bounced around between the Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons. In the process, Moeaki has caught just 11 passes for 192 yards and two scores across 19 games. He probably has enough left in the tank to give the Bengals decent production for a few games if Eifert is out.
If the Bengals merely want another blocking tight end who will rarely need to catch passes, there's several of those guys on the market as well. Most notable, former Bengals tight end Alex Smith is out there waiting to be signed after spending 2015 in Washington.
Smith was with the Bengals from 2013-14 before the Bengals drafted two tight ends in the 2015 draft, which led to Cincinnati not re-signing Smith. Again, he's merely a blocking tight end who isn't going to help replace the pass-catching abilities of Eifert, so a reunion with Smith in unlikely.
As for any undrafted free agent tight ends following this year's NFL draft, former Florida Gators star Jake McGee is still on the market after signing with the Carolina Panthers as an UDFA. He was waived shortly thereafter due to an injury. PFF did a nice scouting report of him and he's someone the Bengals should consider, if he's healthy.
While McGee would be hard pressed to make the 53-man roster even with the Eifert injury, he'd be a nice guy for the practice squad to sit, develop and get healthy before making a run at the final roster in 2017. His upside is higher than that of John Peters or Matt Lengel, both of whom are likely bound for the practice squad, if they even make it that far.
Here's a list of the 15 most notable tight ends still on the market:
Scott Chandler, TE, Patriots. Age: 31
Owen Daniels, TE, Broncos. Age: 33 (may retire)
Andrew Quarless, TE, Packers. Age: 27
Tony Moeaki, TE, Falcons. Age: 29
Demetrius Harris, TE, Chiefs. Age: 25
Chase Ford, TE, Ravens. Age: 26
Kevin Greene, TE, Titans. Age: 26
Richard Gordon, TE, Broncos. Age: 28
Bear Pascoe, TE, Lions. Age: 30
Chase Coffman, TE, Seahawks. Age: 29
Anthony McCoy, TE, Seahawks. Age: 28
Alex Smith, TE, Washington. Age: 34
Daniel Fells, TE, Giants. Age: 32
Allen Reisner, TE, Ravens. Age: 27
Jake McGee, TE, UDFA out of Florida. Age: 24