One answer that has gotten a lot of run is Rob Gronkowski being noncommittal to playing in 2018. The news is only shocking for the first few seconds after you hear about it, but when you think about all the injuries that have piled up through his career, especially concussions, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see one of the league’s best tight ends hang it up early.
So running with the hypothetical of Gronkowski retiring, would that mean New England suddenly comes calling for Tyler Eifert’s services?
Eifert, when healthy, has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends. He has been an absolute beast of a red zone target catching 20 touchdowns over his five-year career. 13 of those touchdowns came in 2015 when he played 13 games and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
The major mark against Eifert has been his inability to stay healthy. He has never played a full 16 games in five seasons, but when his season was cut short this year he spent it getting caught up on surgeries to try and get back to 100 percent.
This is leading to one of the biggest question marks in free agency. Who is willing to take a bet on Eifert, and how much are they willing to give him?
Odds are he will have to take a one-year deal from someone and prove he can stay healthy in order to get a big payday the following offseason. If you would’ve asked me before I would’ve said Eifert would stay with the Bengals for that deal because of his familiarity with Andy Dalton and the coaching staff. Now it feels like if Gronkowski retires New England might as well start selling their Eifert jerseys.
I really like Eifert as a player. He helps out this Bengals offense a tremendous amount, but I find it hard to believe he’d pass up a one-year deal to go play with the Patriots to prove his worth for the next offseason. That is also assuming that money is close to being equal. I doubt he would take a significant pay cut to join the Patriots.
The Patriots have proven they can get the most out of a talented tight end already. Tom Brady is also in a completely different league than Dalton. Plus he would have the easiest route to the championship out of all of his likely suitors.
It would be hard for Eifert to pass up the opportunity to join the Patriots and stay with the Bengals. It would really say a ton about Eifert’s loyalty if he did, but this league doesn’t run on loyalty.
At the end of the day, Eifert will have to do what is best for himself and his career.