2013 was not a good year for first-round draft picks. Only a handful of them ever really lived up to their potential, for a variety of reasons, and some have only had a short shelf life. For the time being, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert fits into that latter category, and we still have yet to be able to tell if it is only injuries holding him back or if he has run his course as an elite talent.
Eifert had only one great season in 2015, in which he led the league with 13 touchdown receptions, but he has missed more games than he has played in over the course of his career because of a vast number of injuries.
He suffered a nasty ankle injury in the first half of the season, and it’s not the first he’s dealt with. He has had three surgeries on his back as well. He has come back to play every season, but only to see injuries cut his year short, time and time again.
During his six-year career, he has only ever played more than eight games twice, and more than four games three times. Over the past two years, Eifert has only managed to suit up six times, catching 19 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown. But that hasn’t deterred him.
“I’ll be back to where I was. No question”, he told the team’s website last week. If he is indeed back to where he was in 2015 when he plays in 2019, the big question that remains is with whom he will be performing.
Having already played through his fifth-year option and a one-year incentive-laden deal in 2018 that he wasn’t healthy enough to capitalize on, it’s too early to know what the Bengals’ plans are regarding the six-year veteran.
After all, they don’t even have a head coach right now, after the team and Marvin Lewis mutually chose to part ways earlier this offseason. They are expected to hire Los Angeles Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor, but that will have to wait at least another week, as they will be hosting the AFC Championship game.
“Just have to see how it plays out. I don’t know where I stand”, he said of his status in Cincinnati after six mostly injury-plagued years in the city. “I don’t have any expectations right now. I don’t know if I’m still wanted. Just have to figure that out”.
He did say that he would be open to staying, but that it would depend on who gets brought in and how the offense is set up. “I would think they would want me back. I would say there is frustration with all my injuries. But I think it’s pretty obvious how the offense runs when I’m in there. Pretty good”.
Whatever team comes calling for him will inevitably be cautious because of his injury history, but surely somebody will take the risk, likely on another incentive-laden deal.