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Projecting the contract value of Tyler Eifert in NFL free agency

What kind of contract will Tyler Eifert command in free agency?

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

What will Tyler Eifert do now that he’s set to hit free agency for the first time in his NFL career?

That remains a mystery heading into next week’s start of free agency. The Bengals would love to keep their talented tight end, but they’re also not going to break the bank for one of the most injury-prone starters in the entire NFL.

Those health concerns are why Eifert is a very hard player to project in terms of what kind of contract offers he’ll command in free agency. Based on his history, Eifert will likely command one of two types of contracts:

  1. A one-year incentive-heavy deal that can increase a lot of he simply stays healthy for 14-16 games and puts up respectable numbers.
  2. A multi-year contract with very little guaranteed money, especially after Year 1 of the deal, allowing teams to cut him after 2018 if he continues to be injury-prone.

As it turns out, Spotrac seems to think the latter option is very possible. In their projection for Eifert’s next contract, they have him landing a four-year deal worth $30,440,828, an average of $7,610,207 per year.

While that seems crazy to give to a player with as many health concerns as Eifert has had, I think it’s possible that’s the kind of deal he gets. However, that type of contract would almost certainly have very little, if any guaranteed money in Years 2-4.

No team is going to give Eifert a long-term deal with a lot of guaranteed money after Year 1. He’s just not reliable enough to invest that kind of money in.

Saying all of this, I still think Eifert ends up signing a one-year prove-it deal with someone. Whether that’s the Bengals or another team remains to be seen, but we should find out next week.