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Is Tyler Kroft on pace to replace Tyler Eifert?

Tyler Kroft is having the kind of season that may give the Bengals pause in re-signing Tyler Eifert.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images

In 2013, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Tyler Eifert 21st overall in the first round of the NFL Draft. His job was to replace Jermaine Gresham, who ironically was also selected 21st overall in the 2010 draft.

To that point in 2013, Gresham registered 1,804 yards, 15 touchdowns on 184 catches. Gresham only stayed two more season in Cincinnati before being replaced, and he signed with the Arizona Cardinals.

Heading into this season, Tyler Eifert had collected 20 touchdowns, and 1,491 yards on 123 catches. In 2015, the Bengals selected Tyler Kroft in the third round of the 2015 draft. This was after Eifert had missed almost all of 2014 with shoulder and elbow injuries, so the Bengals felt they needed a little insurance at tight end, as well as a potential replacement if Eifert were to keep getting injured so much that the Bengals could no longer rely on him.

But draft position nor injury doesn’t automatically make Kroft the go-to Eifert replacement. However, the way that Kroft has been playing in Eifert’s absence does draw the question of whether or not the Bengals should extend Eifert in the offseason.

Since Eifert has been out this season, Kroft has collected 254 yards, and 3 touchdowns on 21 catches including adding another 79 yards on 2 grabs today against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

This puts his pace for the season at 12 yards per catch, with an average of 4.2 catches per game. With eight games left on the schedule, Kroft is projected to end the season with close to 50 snags for 574 yards and close to six touchdowns this year.

Only once in his career has Eifert surpassed five touchdowns in a season, and has only surpassed 445 yards in a season once as well. This means that through the five games that Kroft has played as the starter, he has outplayed every version of Eifert minus the 2015 version.

With Tyler Eifert costing the Bengals 4.7 Million in 2017, should the Bengals and Mike Brown consider sticking with Tyler Kroft, who will only cost the team at most $800,000 next year?