Tyler Eifert’s resume includes the best season ever for a Cincinnati Bengals tight end. In 2015, Eifert caught 52 passes for 615 yards and led the league with 13 touchdown receptions in only 13 games. Only Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots caught more touchdown passes in a season with 17 in 2011.
For his 2015 season, Eifert was voted to the Pro Bowl and was ranked 44th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016, his only appearance on the list since joining the league.
Eifert was drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft and played in all but the final game of the season. He finished with 39 catches for 445 yards and two touchdowns. But then the injury bug began to rear its ugly head.
In the first game of the 2014 season, Eifert suffered a dislocated elbow which caused him to miss the remainder of the season.
In his Pro Bowl appearance after the 2015 season, Eifert injured his ankle and missed the first six games of the 2016 season, then missed the final two games of the year with a back injury. As a result, Eifert managed just 29 receptions for 394 yards and five touchdowns, although his 13.6 yards-per-catch average was the best of his career.
Eifert played in only two games this past season and managed just four receptions for 46 yards. Despite the fact that the Notre Dame grad has played in just 39 of a possible 80 games over his five-year career, the Bengals would love to have Eifert back. But on their terms.
“We want to talk to him and see if we can make a deal that will bring him back,” Cincinnati owner Mike Brown told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com recently. “He’s a very good player. The problem is he’s been injured so much he’s literally played less than half the time. Whatever deal we offer we have to take that into consideration. But we know he’s a player that makes us better when he’s on the field. We plan to talk to most of our (free agents).”
And Eifert is ready to come back – as long as he cannot find a better offer elsewhere.
“I’m open for whatever,” “Eifert told told Jim Owczarski and Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m comfortable in Cincinnati. It’s a place that I’ve called home for five years and I’ve really enjoyed my time so it’s somewhere where I’d like to stay if that was possible. But all options are on the table for sure.”
Any deal the Bengals do offer is likely to be an incentive-laden one that requires Eifert to stay on the field in order to earn substantial compensation. The only question is whether any other team might throw the big money at Eifert based on that 2015 season.
If Eifert does end up going someplace else, the Bengals have his replacement waiting in the wings in Tyler Kroft, who had 42 receptions for 404 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Kroft’s touchdown tally ranked him among the top-10 tight ends in the league.