The Cincinnati Bengals have reached a deal with Tyler Eifert to keep the tight end in Cincinnati, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
The deal is for one-year, which is not a surprise considering his injury history. The full details are not yet available but it’s likely to be an incentivized deal considering how often he’s been off-the-field in his NFL career.
Bengals’ TE Tyler Eifert reached agreement on a one-year deal and is staying in Cincinnati, per league source. Top available TE off the board.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2018
According to Tom Pelissero, the deal can max out at $8 million. That likely would mean that the Bengals are only paying Eifert $8 million if he actually plays a full season or hits some impressive numbers. If he can play a full season, he’s worth $8 million based on his 2015 production.
Tyler Eifert's one-year deal with the #Bengals has a maximum value of $8 million, source said. (@AdamSchefter first on the signing)— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 15, 2018
According to Bengals.com, the deal is in fact incentivized and the base salary is “in the $5.5 million area”:
It has been expected that any deal for Eifert includes a base salary (figure in the $5.5M area) as well as incentives based on play time as well as catches, yards, and touchdowns. Eifert has played just eight games since he got hurt in that ’15 Pro Bowl with ankle and back problems.
In five years with the Bengals, Eifert has played in only 39 games due to multiple injuries, including at least one injury in every year of his career. In that time, Eifert still has accumulated an incredible stat line of 127 catches, 1,537 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Totally ABSURD Tyler Eifert stat:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 15, 2018
They last 3 years Eifert is tied for 6th in red zone TD catches (16), despite playing in only 23 of 48 games (2nd most TEs only):
• 18: Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald & Allen Robinson
• 17: Jordan Reed, Davante Adams
• 16: Eifert & 4 others
No player has averaged more receiving touchdowns per game since 2015 than Tyler Eifert (18 TD in 23 games, 0.78 per game)@Bengals @tylereifert https://t.co/izM7nkO2K3— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) March 15, 2018
In the 2015 season alone, Eifert had 52 catches for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns, which was the most by any tight end in the NFL. It also set a team record for touchdowns by a tight end in one season. And for a good chunk of the season, he led the whole NFL in touchdown catches.
His connection with quarterback Andy Dalton has been incredible and the Bengals’ offense has been a different beast whenever Eifert is playing. Unfortunately, his injuries have caused him to miss so much time, which is why he didn’t have much free agent interest outside of Cincinnati. Eifert’s 2017 season ended early due to a back injury and forced him to have back surgery for the third time in his football playing career.
Beyond the back issues, Eifert has suffered an elbow injury, a stinger and a Pro Bowl ankle injury that seriously derailed his 2016 season. He’s also had knee issues and had a procedure on his knee after he was placed on IR last season, too.
When healthy, Eifert is elite. If he can get back to full health and stay there all season, he should be a major weapon for Dalton and upgrade the offense. Coupled with John Ross getting up to speed, this means the Bengals’ offense could (and should) be far more dynamic in 2018. And it helps even more that Cordy Glenn was brought in to anchor the offensive line at left tackle, which will help Dalton and thus the entire offense.
If Eifert has a healthy and impressive 2018 campaign, you can assume he’ll be the top tight end on the market again next offseason. We’ll see what happens but Bengals fans should be hoping for a healthy and resurgent Eifert.
“I knew where I wanted to be,” Eifert told Bengals.com. “It’s a place I called home for five years. I like the guys in the locker room. I love the coaches. The fans have been great. The way I left it, it’s not the way I wanted to leave it. I felt like owed it to Mr. (Mike) Brown, Coach (Marvin) Lewis and the fans to come back and give them a good year.”
This is great news for the Bengals and the team’s 2013 first round pick.