Tyler Eifert’s days as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals appear to be numbered. The often injured star tight end is said to have a “10% chance” of sticking with the team, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise after the 27-year old missed 22 of a possible 32 games over the last two seasons.
Always a useful weapon in the passing game and especially an elite red-zone target, Eifert’s talent and upside may still keep the Bengals interested in retaining him. Eifert is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, however, and it’s likely he’ll have to go elsewhere to land the type of money he covets.
It will be interesting to see the mutual interest here, as Eifert may not see the money he desires out on the open market. On the flip side, the Bengals may not be willing to invest a ton of cash in a guy who has back and knee issues and simply can’t stay healthy.
If Eifert is indeed on his way out of town, there’s a chance another team could get a stud tight end at a discount. Should he stay healthy, Eifert still has the size and overall skill-set to be a terror in the passing game and also assist in run-blocking. There are several teams that could use his services. Here’s three that make the most sense:
Green Bay Packers
Few teams need a quality tight end as badly as Green Bay does. The Packers haven’t had a reliable seam stretcher since the days of Jermichael Finley, while would-he big acquisitions (Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks) turned out to be huge gaffes. Add in the still plodding Richard Rodgers, and the Pacers have almost gone backwards at the position.
Green Bay isn’t one for splashy moves in free agency and Jimmy Graham might be a more attractive splurge, but perhaps the new GM will shake things up a bit. It’s true Graham would be a more reliable purchase, but if Eifert can stay healthy and sign on the cheap, he could be a fantastic signing.
Aaron Rodgers is already arguably the NFL’s top passer and he hasn’t had a viable threat at tight end in years. Adding Eifert to Green Bay’s potent passing attack could be huge for a team looking to forget a lost 2017 season.
Ever since Dennis Pitta starting battling hip issues (that eventually forced him to retire), the Ravens have been searching for their next star tight end. Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams looked like possible solutions, but they haven’t panned out and the Ravens can trust in the 37-year old Ben Watson for so long.
As I said when I looked at the top Jarvis Landry free agency suitors, teams who don’t get paid by the team that drafted them can get mad and go play for a rival. Eifert doesn’t strike me as a guy to seek revenge, but playing in the division he knows could still have it’s perks.
The need is there and a healthy Eifert fits what Baltimore wants. He can help in run-blocking, he can make plays over the middle of the field and he’s one of the best red-zone threats in the entire NFL. Watson hits free agency this offseason, too, so it would make sense for the Ravens to be more proactive about a position they’ve had some issues with.
Deshaun Watson looked like the real deal last year and if that’s the case, the Texans have a lot to look forward to on offense. In fact, their only real weak spot could be tight end, as two of their guys from last year have scary concussion issues, leaving Stephen Anderson as their lone option at the moment.
That won’t do, while Eifert would be a massive upgrade over their current options, regardless. On top of that, Houston could be trending in a winning direction, which should be music to Eifert’s ears. Given how close the Texans are to making some noise in the playoffs – should they stay healthy – this could actually be a perfect match.
The money works for the Texans, too. Houston ranks 7th in salary cap space right now and could see the tight end spot as one to invest in.
Overall, there is no denying two things; Tyler Eifert has a brutal injury history, but when healthy, he’s a bit of a beast. This is a game-changing addition for the right team, while Eifert’s checkered health in the past could actually help his new team by handing them a “prove it” deal on the cheap.
Other teams with a big need for tight end help include the Seattle Seahawks (if Graham walks), New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos. The New England Patriots are uncanny at picking up elite tight end options to use behind The Gronk, too. I wouldn’t completely rule them out, either.