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Bengals must learn from free agency failures when considering future of tight end position

With the Bengals’ top three tight ends in a contract year, the team needs to make some tough decisions about the future of the position.

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Free agency has played a big role in the Bengals’ struggles during the past two seasons.

The team has suffered major losses, and to make things worse the loses have struck more than once in the same position groups. In 2019, the Bengals are once again at risk of losing multiple players at the same position.

In 2016, the Bengals lost two of their top three wide receivers in free agency. The team signed Brandon LaFell and drafted Tyler Boyd in an attempt to replace them, but that tandem was a significant drop off from that of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones.

In 2017, the Bengals lost their top two offensive linemen in free agency and tried to replace them with a pair of under-developed former first-round draft picks in Cedric Ogbuehi and Andre Smith. This endeavor also failed.

Losing multiple players at the same position in the same offseason and not finding appropriate replacements for them has had devastating consequences for the Bengals in 2016 and 2017, and it couple happen again in 2019.

The Bengals re-signed Tyler Eifert to a one-year contract this offseason. In a way, this makes sense. Eifert has been injury prone and the team does not want to commit to him long-term unless he can prove that he is capable of staying healthy for a full season.

The problem is that Eifert now joins fellow tight ends Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah as potential free agents in 2019. The only tight ends/h-backs the Bengals have under contract past 2019 are Ryan Hewitt, Cethan Carter, Mason Schreck, and Jordan Franks.

Hewitt is the most experienced of the group, and Carter is no slouch, having seen some action on special teams last season. Schreck was a seventh-round pick in 2017 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve. Franks is a rookie free agent who the team signed after this year’s draft.

The ideal situation is that Eifert is healthy all year and signs a long year deal with the team, but if that doesn’t happen, the Bengals will have to make a decision about the future of the position.

Do they sign Kroft to become the top tight end? Do they sign Uzomah and hope he or Schreck develop into starters? Or do they make a big move in free agency or the draft?

When the Bengals lost Sanu and Jones, the wide receiver position went from a strength to a weakness. When they lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, the offensive line became an embarrassment.

A healthy Eifert is one of the best tight ends in the league. With Kroft and Uzomah, the position has been solid, though nothing special. If the team loses all three and does not have a real plan to invest in their replacements, then the tight end position will be a major detriment to them in 2019. The Bengals can’t afford to let that happen, which could lead to Kroft getting an extension prior to the 2018 NFL season.

“It’s in the back of my head but I’m trying not to give it too much thought and try and control what I can control,” Kroft said of his impending contract year, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That’s basically how I’ve been trying to think about it. Not get too excited or too down.”

With that said, the Bengals have a big decision to make.


What should the Bengals do at the TE position?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Extend Tyler Kroft to a long-term deal before the 2018 season
    (193 votes)
  • 49%
    Let all 3 TEs play the 2018 season on contract years
    (186 votes)
379 votes total Vote Now