The Cincinnati Bengals are losing Tyler Eifert for the remainder of the 2017 season.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Eifert has opted to undergo surgery on his back.
After consulting with Dr. Watkins, Bengals’ TE Tyler Eifert has decided to undergo season-ending back surgery, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 12, 2017
Eifert played in Weeks 1 and 2 this season before missing the last three games due to the back injury. Ironically, the Bengals have played their best football without Eifert, though that’s mainly because Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator in Week 3.
It’s sad to think what might have been with Eifert in Lazor’s new-look offense, which looks miles ahead of what Ken Zampese was running.
Eifert has never played a full 16-game season and has played a total of 39 out of 69 possible regular season games in his five-year NFL career to date. After dislocating his elbow in the first game of the 2014 season (after injuring his shoulder in offseason workouts), Eifert later had shoulder surgery that kept him out for most of the 2015 offseason, but he still returned in time for training camp that year. In 2015 he suffered a concussion and stinger, which cost him three games.
Eifert later 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 he suffered in practice leading up to Week 5. In eight games last season, Eifert caught 39 passes for 394 yards and five touchdowns.
Now, Eifert will become a free agent in 2018 having missed most of the last two seasons of football. I doubt the Bengals will place the franchise tag on him, but it’s not out of the question. The Bengals will go a little overboard to take care of their own, so I could still see this going either way, depending on how long he is in his recovery.
Depending on the extent of the surgery, Eifert could be out several months but be recovered in time for the start of free agency in March. Perhaps that’s why he’s having the surgery now, rather than risk having to undergo it later and hurt his value as a 2018 free agent.