The Cincinnati Bengals have placed fifth year tight end Tyler Eifert on season-ending Injured Reserve, the team announced Thursday.
This marks the end of another season for Eifert, who has just five years under his belt, but has managed to end the season on IR in three of his five seasons. Both last season and this season he’s suffered season-ending back injuries, which eventually required surgery.
Eifert is scheduled to undergo back surgery today in Los Angeles and the time table for his recovery is 4-6 months. Per ESPN, the surgery Eifert is undergoing is a microdiscectomy, which entails removing a piece of a herniated disc in his back.
Discectomy is surgery to remove lumbar (low back) herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord.
This season, Eifert played in Week 1-2 with one start and had four catches for 46 yards. He was inactive for Weeks 3-5 due to the back injury, which will now end his season. Eifert was reportedly deciding on whether or not to undergo season-ending back surgery, and the decision was made Thursday. It’s possible he could have bypassed surgery, rehabbed it and eventually returned this season, but he ultimately felt it was best to have the surgery.
Eifert learned his lesson on waiting out injuries the hard way when he waited too long following the 2015 NFL season to get surgery on his injured ankle. The hope from doctors and Eifert was that his Pro Bowl ankle injury would recover on its own, but it never did and he required surgery that caused him to miss the first six games of the 2016 NFL season. In the lead up to his 2016 debut, Eifert injured his back, causing him to miss more games than he likely would have if just the ankle was keeping him out.
Alas, Eifert now is set to become a free agent in the 2018 offseason. My guess is the Bengals bypass on using the franchise tag on him but opt to match any offer he gets on the open market. I say this because it’s really hard to see anyone giving Eifert anything more than a one-year prove it deal, and the Bengals should have plenty of cap space to match whatever offer he gets.
No one knows how his back will respond the third back back surgery of his football career. That’s hard to recover from, though often doable.
Without Eifert, the Bengals are now left with C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Kroft and Cethan Carter at tight end, as well as h-back Ryan Hewitt who often doubles as a tight end. Unfortunately, Hewitt is also hurt, currently dealing with a knee injury, suffered during the Bengals’ win over the Browns in Week 4.
If Eifert has played his final game in Bengals stripes, he’ll have finished out in Cincinnati with 127 catches for 1,527 yards and 20 touchdowns. The big story of his time in Cincinnati will be unfortunate injuries suffered in every year of his time with the Bengals. Eifert never managed to play a 16-game season and only played 39 games of a possible 80 (come season's end this year). At this point, he's played in 39 of 69 games.
His spectacular 2015 season was one to remember, but his injuries will probably be remembered more than anything else.
The Bengals now have 52 players on the roster and can sign someone at any time to fill Eifert’s spot.