Is Cincinnati Bengals’ Tyler Eifert ready for contract year?

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CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 4: Tyler Eifert
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 4: Tyler Eifert /
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The super talented yet, injury prone Tyler Eifert is entering a contract year that could be very difficult to handle. The Bengals’ tight end only played seven games last season and was placed on IR late in the season, due to a back injury he is still recovering from.

Tyler Eifert could be the best tight end in the league if he could just stay healthy. Plain and simple. Every season, Who Dey Nation pays close attention to injury updates mainly because of the tight end. And this year is no different.

Back in April, Eifert claimed that he would be ready for training camp. However, with less than a week until training camp starts, that doesn’t look like the case. Eifert has been limited during OTA’s and minicamps. Without a set return date, the Bengals organization and fans are trying to wait patiently. Much easier said than done.

If Eifert is ready Week 1, that’s all that matters. His presence on the field opens up so much more for the offense. And the combination of A.J. Green, Eifert, John Ross and Tyler Boyd could be too much for Baltimore to handle, especially, when you throw Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard into the mix.

In what feels like the lone season he played, the 2015 version of Eifert made a huge impact for the Bengals. He helped the team look like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Eifert caught 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. The majority of those touchdowns came in the red zone. Comparing the 2016 Bengals offense to the 2015 performance, Eifert was definitely missed. Cincinnati could not score TDs inside the 20-yard line.

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He was such an integral part of the Bengals offense and on my fantasy team in 2015. However, just like every year of his career, that even ended in an injury and rehab. Eifert suffered an ankle injury in the Pro Bowl, which turned out to be a major problem.

Let’s fast forward to the 2017 NFL Draft. As I stood in the big crowd in front of the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia, PA, I watched each player walk across the stage. Once Cincinnati was on the clock, I kept calling out for the Bengals to select Alabama’s O.J. Howard. Why? Tyler Eifert.

Injury after Injury, what could be’s and what if’s.

I won’t stay fixated on Howard and the draft, but the point is that O.J. Howard would have provided much-needed insurance. The tight end position is very important in the Bengals offense and without Eifert, there’s basically a gaping hole in the offense. Tyler Kroft isn’t the receiver Eifert is and C.J. Uzomah is still very raw.

Eifert is needed if the Bengals plan on making a run in the playoffs. But, even beyond that, Eifert is entering a contract year. If he can stay healthy he’ll be collecting a big payday at the end of the season. Hopefully, it’s from Cincinnati. Although, if it’s another year of being sidelined, how much longer will he actually be in Stripes? The best ability is availability and if that’s not the case, a line has to be drawn eventually.

Next: What To Expect

Contract years are so much different from any other. Players leave it all out on the field every Sunday. Hill will definitely be playing motivated this year…will Eifert?

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