Kroft has been nothing if not reliable for the Bengals over the past three years. For that, he believes he deserves a second contract.
Fourth-year tight end Tyler Kroft is up for a contract extension, and the Bengals should definitely consider offering him one. Kroft, who played his college ball at Rutgers, was the Bengals third round selection in 2015. Though the team already had Tyler Eifert, adding Kroft gave them offense versatility. Looking back at the 2015 tight end class, Kroft has certainly been the standout of the group. Drafted alongside players like Maxx Williams, Clive Walford, Nick O’Leary, and Jeff Heuerman, Kroft has outplayed all of them in his three years on the Bengals.
In his first couple seasons with the Bengals, Kroft wasn’t on the field very often. He only recorded 21 catches over his first two seasons. Kroft played behind a healthy Eifert in 2015 and then behind CJ Uzomah in 2016. However, when Eifert went down again in 2017, Kroft stepped into the starting role. Kroft wasn’t the receiving threat Eifert was, but he was a great short yardage target. In 2017, he recorded 42 catches for 404 yards and, most impressively, 7 touchdowns.
Kroft felt pretty good about his last season, telling the Cincinnati Enquirer, “There’s definitively momentum coming off of 2017. I think I’ve done a good job learning and understanding the offense as much as I can.”
Going into his fourth season, there should definitely be some excitement around Kroft’s role. The Bengals did bring back Eifert on a one-year contract, so he may steal some of Kroft’s work. However, Eifert has a propensity for missing time, and another injury this year would not be a surprise. Kroft should be heavily involved no matter what, though. I am expecting some two tight end sets this season, especially around the goal line.
If Eifert can’t stay on the field again, Kroft may see an even bigger workload than last year. He mentioned that there is growing trust between him and Andy Dalton as well as new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Outside of AJ Green, it is possible Kroft becomes the go-to short yardage pass catcher. He has certainly proven to be reliable in that role.
If this is the role the Bengals have in mind for Kroft, they should definitely go ahead and extend him. Kroft is a legitimate NFL tight end who can be a starter, so having him around long-term would be nice. There is clearly interest on Kroft’s side to come back – he says the extension is “in the back of his head,” even though he doesn’t want it to plague his season. Hopefully, the Bengals feel the same and he can return past the 2018 season.