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Bengals re-singing Tyler Eifert shows organizational wisdom

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After a quiet start to the week on the Eifert watch, the Bengals kept their star-crossed tight end. And, even though he’s battled injuries, the team is better for re-signing him.

Philadelphia Eagles v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If you had told analysts and fans that the Cincinnati Bengals would have made four signings before the close of the second day of free agency, most would have pegged you as crazy. Yet, despite our own preconceived notions, Cincinnati has added defensive tackle Chris Baker and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, while re-signing Kevin Huber and Tyler Eifert. And, on Friday the team signed linebacker Preston Brown.

For some of us, that’s quite a few check marks off of the team’s offseason to-do list.

Yet, for one reason or another, fans seemed to be mixed on the Eifert signing. Whether it’s the prospect of the team paying $8.5 million for one year of service from an often-injured tight end, or the 2017 emergence of the cheaper Tyler Kroft, a contingent of fans are dissatisfied with No. 85’s return.

Poll

Did the Bengals make the right choice re-signing Tyler Eifert to a 1-year deal?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Yes!
    (1814 votes)
  • 6%
    No. They paid too much.
    (155 votes)
  • 6%
    No. They need to move on from him.
    (157 votes)
  • 7%
    sUpeR bOwL bAby!
    (171 votes)
2297 votes total Vote Now

As with any new deal, the devil is in the details. One has to look at Eifert’s one-year deal from both the macro and micro-perspectives to truly see that it’s a wise decision by the Bengals, one of many wise decisions the team has recently made.

If Eifert makes the entirety of $8.5 million for 2018, he will have helped the Bengals in a massive way:

It’s understandable for fans who see $8.5 million for one year to an oft-injured tight end as a possible waste, but a good chunk of that — about $3 million — is incentivized. As we are scrambling to find out more details on the deal, Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com estimates that about $5.5 million or so is guaranteed.

If this is accurate, this puts Eifert between Chicago’s Dion Sims and Oakland’s Jared Cook, in terms of average yearly salary, per Spotrac. That’s currently good for 21st in the category, so from that standpoint, getting Eifert at this rate is a bit of a steal.

And, hey—don’t you want Eifert to hit those escalators? Doing so essentially means he’s greatly helped the team this year as hitting the marks would require him to play and help the Bengals in a big way.

He wanted to remain in Cincinnati:

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. About a month or so ago, Eifert posted an Instragram video on his account showing his attendance at a local Cincinnati-area high school basketball game.

His wingman? Bengals tight ends coach, Jonathan Hayes.

It’s just one little thing before negotiations picked up that pointed to Eifert liking the city and his coaches. And though some of it may be “player-speak”, Eifert immediately took to social media to express his pleasure about returning to the Bengals in 2018.

For those of us who have been around these parts for a while, a Pro Bowler wanting to stick with the Bengals during free agency is always nice to hear. It’s especially nice, as the two teams who were reportedly pursuing him (the 49ers and Rams) are young teams on the rise, as opposed to the Bengals, who have backslid the past two seasons.

“I knew where I wanted to be,” Eifert said via 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.”

Even if his desire to remain in the Queen City doesn’t directly equate to on-field production, this is a guy you want in the locker room.

Use 2015 as a reference:

Obviously, the hope for everyone pulling for the Bengals is that Eifert reverts back to his 13-touchdown form from 2015. Aside from Eifert’s own individual performance that year, one has to look at “the gang getting back together” in 2015. After losing Eifert, Marvin Jones, Giovani Bernard and others on the offense for varying degrees of time in 2014, they all returned the following season to create one of the league’s best offenses.

Cincinnati has attempted to re-create that grouping with A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, John Ross, Tyler Boyd, Bernard, Joe Mixon and now Eifert all in the mix. After Andy Dalton put forth an MVP-like campaign in 2015 with this talented crew, Eifert comes back as a huge weapon in an arsenal that has the ability to replicate that year, if all goes right.

Oh, and there’ s this:

It’s an even more team-friendly deal than using the franchise tag:

Based on what we know about the deal, this is a prove-it contract for Eifert. If he does put the Bengals’ money where his mouth is, then not only is it beneficial for the team this year, but also for Eifert as he potentially enters free agency again next year.

Some, including myself, felt that franchise tagging Eifert was the better way to go. While it was risky and expensive, it would secure him on a different type of prove-it deal.

Looking at the 2018 franchise tag numbers, tight ends would be making $9.85 million guaranteed this year. So, the Bengals essentially saved $4.35 million up front on a deal for Eifert by not tagging him. And, even if he reaches all of his escalators, the Bengals will be paying him less than the franchise tag amount.

Finally acting like other big boys of the offseason:

Whether it’s deciding to let Adam Jones walk and not pick up the option o his contract, getting what seems like another financial steal in the Baker deal, while also filling a roster need, or trading for Glenn, this is a refreshing change from the past couple of Bengals offseasons. They’re actually acting like an NFL team, folks.

Look, they aren’t throwing money around like the Monopoly Guy or anything, but this has to be a bit more of a satisfying offseason than the past few with this club. The fact that they stepped up and signed Eifert after other teams were after him shows a positive aggression.