The “legal tampering” period of free agency has ensued, as the frenzy shot off to a bang this weekend and on Monday. A major part of the initial process is in teams negotiating new deals for their own players set to hit the open market.
That’s how the Cincinnati Bengals started off their first free agency under the new Zac Taylor regime. Right tackle Bobby Hart inked a lucrative three-year deal to remain in Cincinnati, while the team re-signed one of their four free agent tight ends in C.J. Uzomah.
Apparently, they may not be done with re-upping players at an ailing group. Per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Cincinnati is still chatting with Tyler Eifert about a possible return.
The Bengals are apparently still talking to Tyler Eifert, the tight end that began the season in the starting lineup before missing the last 12 games with a dislocated ankle.
Eifert was recovering from a back injury last offseason, but the team still signed him to a one-year, $5.5 million contract. Only $3 million was guaranteed, limiting the team’s risk if he sustained another injury.
Unfortunately, the bug struck Eifert once again in the form of a dislocated ankle against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4. Now, Cincinnati is flirting with the opportunity to bring him back, but they are undoubtedly looking for another low-risk deal to make that happen.
There are pros and cons to re-signing Eifert, to be sure, but nobody can argue his impact when healthy. He has basically averaged a touchdown catch in every other NFL game he has played, and Andy Dalton is a different quarterback with his tight end deployed on the field.
After playing in 15 games as a rookie in 2013, Eifert dislocated his elbow in the first game of the next season and landed on injured reserve. He then came back with a vengeance in 2015, making the Pro Bowl after grabbing 13 touchdowns.
Since that fateful Pro Bowl, Eifert has missed 34 games with various injuries over the past three seasons. The decline of the offense was obvious after his ankle injury against the Falcons, as the unit became a game of “Guess Who?” by the end of the year.
Eifert is rehabbing again this offseason, hoping to get another shot from someone. He’s open to returning to the Bengals, given some comments immediately following Marvin Lewis’ departure.
“I’d be up to staying here. Yeah. It would have to depend a little bit (on the new offensive coordinator),” Eifert said back in January. “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.”
As we’ve kept a pulse on the rumor mill, this is really the only tidbit of news that has surfaced, in terms of interest in Eifert’s services. That was to be expected early on in free agency, and he might be a guy teams endear themselves to in the second or third wave of signings. He may even be a guy teams keep tabs on throughout the spring and look to add to their roster after the draft.