Tyler Eifert is under contract until 2018, but while he plays out the rest of his contract, he knows he is about to get a huge deal when it’s over. In order for Cincinnati to retain his services, they are going to have to pay up.
Thanks to the big contracts by the rest of the top tier tight ends, the tight end market is set. The Redskins signed Jordan Reed to a five year, $50 million dollar extension. The Titans signed Delanie Walker to a two year, $14.7 million dollar extension. The Chiefs signed Travis Kelce to a five year, $46.8 million dollar deal. Lastly, the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with both Zach Ertz and Brent Celek for a five year, $42.5 million dollar deal and a three year, $13 million dollar deal.
If Eifert can prove to stay healthy and play a full 16-game season, while matching his 52 receptions, 615 yards and 13 touchdown performance in 2015, he is going to see a deal around what Jordan Reed got from the Redskins. Reed is getting an average of $10 million dollars per season now, but Eifert could be looking at even more than that.
When Eifert is on the field he is arguably the best tight end not named Rob Gronkowski. The only factor that will keep him from reaching $10 million a year is his durability. In his three years in the NFL, he has yet to play a full season.
Eifert played in 15 games in his rookie year and if you want to get technical, he was a starter that season. The Bengals switched to a two tight end set that season to pair him with Jermaine Gresham. Regardless, in those 15 games he failed to put up serious production. He failed to catch at least 4 catches in 13 of the 15 games.
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He missed nearly the entire season of his sophomore year, but rebounded and dominated in year three. This season, Eifert has to be just as dominant as he was last year and stay healthy. Eifert’s production is going to be so important to the success of the Bengals this season.
With the lost of Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones, the Bengals lost a lot of production and experience. Jones and Sanu took a lot of pressure off of A.J. Green. Jones could beat most single coverage and Sanu was a strong handed, possession receiver that could work the intermediate routes.
After losing both of them, the Bengals replaced them by signing Brandon LaFell and drafting Mohammed Sanu’s clone Tyler Boyd. These two players are certainly going to help, but you can’t bet on a rookie and Andy Dalton and Brandon LaFell have yet to develop chemistry. That means that Eifert is going to have light it up because Green has no help on the other side now.
It also means, Andy Dalton is going to rely on Eifert even more. There’s no coincidence that the year Eifert is relatively healthy, Andy Dalton looks like the league MVP. The presence of Eifert is crucial to Green and Dalton.
His importance to the team, to Andy Dalton and to A.J. Green is either going to make him a highly paid Bengal or a highly sought after tight end.
This just goes to show you how much NFL franchises have to deal with. Eifert isn’t going to be a free agent until after next season, but thanks to the other tight ends, we are already talking about his next contract. It’s surprising because we haven’t even started the 2016 season or dealt with the contracts of Kevin Zeitler, Giovani Bernard, Dre Kirkpatrick, Andrew Whitworth or Shawn Williams.
One thing is for sure though. This season is going to be very important for many different people and Tyler Eifert is one of them.