Tyler Eifert is going through yet another offseason rehabbing a significant injury.
The Pro Bowl tight end is all too familiar with this situation, but there is a wrinkle this time around. This year, he will not be playing for a coach named Marvin Lewis for the first time in his career.
“It’s beyond my thought process,” is all he said on the subject of playing for a new coach when recently asked—be it in Cincinnati or elsewhere.
“Just have to see how it plays out,” he said, via the team’s website. “I don’t know where I stand. I don’t have any expectations right now. I don’t know if I’m still wanted. Just have to figure that out.”
Lewis is someone who would have clearly wanted to keep Eifert around if the 16-year head coach had stuck around for the final year of his contract. Not only did was he the head coach who drafted him in the first round, but he was also in charge when the team signed Eifert back to a one year, incentive-heavy deal last season.
“I enjoyed playing for him,” Eifert said of Lewis. “I sent him a text and thanked him for the opportunity to play in the league. I think a lot of guys are sad to see him go. But just like all of us, we don’t know if we’ll be here tomorrow.”
What are the odds that Eifert gets re-signed to a similar deal in 2019 to remain in Cincinnati?
If it was up to him, he’d return to the Bengals. But, with so many things in flux with the team right now, it’s anybody’s guess if he’s in their offseason plans.
That will be up to whoever becomes the new head coach and possibly even the new offensive coordinator, should a change be made at that job as well. The good news is that the Bengals are seeking an offensive-minded guy and signs are pointing to Rams assistant Zac Taylor as the next head coach.
“I’d be up to staying here. Yeah. It would have to depend a little bit (on the new offensive coordinator),” Eifert said. “You have to weigh all the factors. (It was different when Lewis was here last year), you knew what you were getting. I would think they would want me back. I would say there is frustration with all my injuries. But I think it’s pretty obvious how the offense runs when I’m in there. Pretty good.”
He has been very effective when healthy, including a highly-productive season in 2015 that resulted in a Pro Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, a myriad of injuries have forced him out of 36 games in the last three seasons.
Eifert has also been useful when in the lineup from a game plan perspective. Even when the ball doesn’t come his way, defenses have to account for him, which usually frees up A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Co. to make their share of plays.
“I don’t get it,” Eifert said. “They say it’s unlucky. But I’m pretty lucky. Just to be here. You have to keep it in perspective. I’m lucky. I’ve been put in some good positions in my life.”
His previous injuries are completely rehabbed, he says. Whether it was the ankle issue of 2016, or the back issue of 2017, those shouldn’t be affecting him in the future.
“My back was feeling better than it had felt. It was like it was back to normal. It was an every-day thing that I’d have to think about it. That’s just how it was. Every day. But the back was feeling great. I guess something else had to give.”
His left ankle is feeling perfect, which is the injury he sustained during the Pro Bowl a few years ago. Undergoing that process helped him with the rehab of his right ankle, which is the one he injured during Week 4 this past season. Of course, with all of the concern about his back and his left ankle, he admits he may not have taken care of that first ankle issue properly.
“It’s the same hardware that was in my left ankle. That didn’t have any issues. It’s the same rehab” Eifert said. “I’m a lot more aware how to handle this one. I was just too heavy and didn’t focus enough on my core and worried about my ankle.”
With all the care and focus Eifert put into returning for the 2018 season, rest assured he will back and ready for action in 2019. For Eifert, it’s a matter of if he can stay healthy for a club for the duration of a full season.
Whether or not he is in Bengals stripes, his new head coach will be happy to have him as a part of the offense. As we know, when he’s out on the field, he’s a game-changer.