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What is the Bengals’ biggest free agency decision?

The Bengals don’t have a lot of high profile free agents, but their biggest free agent decision, according to ESPN, will probably be their toughest.

Philadelphia Eagles v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

It is no secret that the Bengals shouldn’t be worried about many, if any of the players from their 2018 free agency class leaving this offseason.

Most of the players are ones that have failed to sustain success over their careers with the Bengals, and it’d be beneficial for both sides to move on.

There is one name though that keeps popping up when people talk about Bengals’ free agents and that is Tyler Eifert.

ESPN put together every team’s biggest free agent decision recently, and to no ones surprise they picked Eifert for the Bengals:

The adage that a player’s best ability is his availability is a common refrain centered around Eifert, who has never played a full season in the five years since the Bengals drafted him. With substantial injury concerns, testing the market will be a tricky endeavor for him, especially when coupled with what appears to be a steady 2018 class of tight end prospects. From the Bengals’ perspective, it’s important to approach this situation on their terms and not overextend.

Verdict: Offer Eifert a one-year, incentive-laden deal tied to being active for games.

This is a verdict I personally agree with. There is no reason to give Eifert a long-term contract. His health has eliminated that at this point. The Bengals will let him field offers, but they should at least make it clear that they’d like to have him back.

Considering players like Jimmy Graham, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Trey Burton and Cameron Brate (Restricted Free Agent) are all hitting the open market as well, it should dilute the market for Eifert as well. It also gives the Bengals some options as far as replacements if Eifert finds a suitor elsewhere.

There is a portion of Bengals fans who probably feel comfortable with Tyler Kroft replacing Eifert full-time, but I personally disagree. Kroft is a valuable tight end to have. He is a great blocker and he is a great red-zone threat, but outside of the red zone he is almost nonexistent.

Eifert rarely is even an option for Andy Dalton when the team isn’t in scoring distance. That is where Eifert was so valuable. No matter where the team was on the field, he was a constant mismatch, and he drew the attention of the defense.

No opposing defenses are worried about ever bracketing coverage against Kroft. That hurts the receivers who are now dealing with the extra coverage.

Also, it eliminates any plays where A.J. Green doesn’t have the possibility of having single coverage. Kroft is a great second tight end to have, but Dalton needs more of a safety blanket than that.

A one-year deal is something that not only the Bengals would love to get Eifert signed to, but something I’m sure he will find as the best option for himself as well after seeing the offers from opposing teams.

The only reason I’d expect him to move on to another team is if he was going to a team that had a top tier quarterback and a system that has proven to have tight ends produce. I don’t know how serious Rob Gronkowski was about retiring, but if he does, Eifert could be a low-investment option for them at the tight end position. Outside of that, I don’t think Eifert is trying to leave a team that features him so heavily on offense.

It is probably best for the Bengals and Eifert to do exactly what ESPN suggested. Eifert gets another chance at a contract year, and the Bengals get another chance at having a loaded offense if things fall the right way.

What do you think the Bengals’ biggest free agency decision is?