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4 years of hard work is finally paying off for C.J. Uzomah

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With a new three-year deal on the books, the Bengals’ former third-string tight end will be a huge part of the Bengals offense moving forward.

NFL: NOV 25 Browns at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In 2015, the Bengals selected tight end C.J. Uzomah in the fifth round of the draft, 157th overall. He signed a four-year contract worth a total of $2.49 million.

Four years later, the Bengals signed Uzomah to a three-year deal to keep him in Cincinnati. He will make $6.08 million in 2019 alone. His roster bonus for 2019 is worth more than his entire rookie contract, and every bit of it was earned.

Uzomah has worked his tail off to become the starting tight end in Zac Taylor’s revamped offense. While the Bengals’ brought back Tyler Eifert as well, they clearly expect Uzomah to shoulder most of the load at tight end.

C.J. Uzomah

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 265 pounds

College: Auburn

Hometown: Suwannee, GA

Experience: Fifth-Year Player

Cap Status

Uzomah signed a deal in free agency that is set to pay him over $18 million over the next three years, according to Spotrac.com. The first year will be the biggest hit to the Bengals salary cap thanks to his sizable roster bonus. His cap hit in 2019 will be $6,083,333.

The contract is severely front-loaded, which will give Uzomah some protection for 2019. If for some reason the Bengals want to part ways, they can exercise the potential out in 2020 for only $2.17 million.

Background

Uzomah came out of Auburn as senior with only 29 receptions to his name. Over three years of football experience, Uzomah only tallied 435 yards and 7 touchdowns.

The Bengals drafted Uzomah on Day 3 of the 2015 NFL Draft, after selecting tight end Tyler Kroft of Rutgers the day before. With a healthy Tyler Eifert for the first 13 games of that season, and blocking specialist Kroft in front of him, Uzomah only had one catch on four targets during his rookie year.

Over the next three years, Uzomah worked his way up the depth chart and finally got a chance to break out in 2018. With Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft going down with injuries, the Bengals’ tight end squad was made up of a couple of practice squad signees and, of course, Uzomah.

The Bengals looked to Uzomah, and weren’t disappointed. In the 2018 campaign, Uzomah caught 43 receptions for 439 yards and three touchdowns, raking in more catches and yards in that season than he did in his whole college career.

2019 outlook

The Bengals rewarded Uzomah’s efforts in 2019 by re-signing him while letting Kroft walk. While the Bengals did re-sign Eifert, who is without a question the more skilled of the two, Uzomah is set to be paid about twice as much this year.

Uzomah and Eifert are both primarily receiving tight ends, so the Bengals drafted a blocking tight end in Drew Sample this season. Sample shouldn’t take any snaps from Uzomah, so he will be the top tight end in the passing game. While Eifert will be the head honcho whenever he is on the field, his injury history makes him a big enough question mark that Uzomah will get his fair share of targets.

Roster odds

Uzomah represents a key piece of depth on the Bengals’ depth chart. If Eifert ever goes down with an injury (which history tells us is highly likely), then Uzomah will have all the pressure on his shoulders. There is not much experience behind him, so his role in the offense plus his high dead cap pretty much guarantees his roster spot.

Roster odds: 100%