Wow! What a crazy NFL free agency so far and we still have plenty of solid players left on the market. Speaking of a solid player, former Cincinnati Bengals tight end, Tyler Eifert was recently picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars on a two year deal worth 15.5M. Such a smart decision by GM, David Cadwell and the rest of the Jaguars front office. Sure, Eifert is injury prone but nothing too unfamiliar with the Jaguars as their starting tight ends were on the injured reserve for the 2019-20 season, James O'Shaughnessy, who caught a touchdown in Week 3 against the Titans, was looking like he was going to be the next Jaguars calibur TE, that was until he suffered a knee injury in Week 5 sidelining him for the rest of the season. Also, rookie, Josh Oliver suffered two injuries, a torn hamstring which he missed the first six games and then suffered small fractures in his back in Week 11, ending his season. The other two TEs on the roster, Geoff Swaim and Nick O’ Leary looked lost half the time they were on the field, these two were quickly released along with another fellow TE, Seth DeValve at the start of the offseason as they didn’t run routes accordingly. The Jaguars haven’t had a stable TE since they released Marcedes Lewis in the 2017-18 off-season but Eifert came with a reasonable price tag, a player like him possibly can be a low risk ending with a high reward.
Unfortunately for the NFL, the 2013 draft class turned out to be below average but the Cincinnati Bengals made the right choice and selected the 6’6” monster 21st overall out of Notre Dame. Tyler Eifert burst onto the scene starting 15 games his rookie year, catching 39 passes for 445-yards with 2 touchdowns. The Indianapolis Colts took care of the Bengals in the wildcard game but regardless the future was looking bright for head coach, Marvin Lewis, quarterback, Andy Dalton and rookie, Tyler Eifert...or was it? In 2014, Dalton made his second Pro Bowl but without Eifert as he was out for the entire season after he suffered a dislocated shoulder in a Week 1 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals experienced more deja vu as the Colts beat them in the wildcard game for the second straight year. In 2015, it was worth the wait to see Eifert in action again as he along with Dalton and A.J. Green led the offense and ran away with the AFC North crown. Even with Eifert only playing 12 games, he snagged 52 receptions for 615-yards and 13 touchdowns, good enough for a spot in the Pro Bowl that year. After Dalton fractured his thumb, backup A.J. McCarron played well but Marvin Lewis has a tendency to struggle in events as we call them - playoffs and lost a heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home 16 - 15. You can thank Vontaze Burfict’s cheapshot to Antonio Brown for that one. The Bengals haven’t made the playoffs since and have been one of the league's worst teams. In 2016, Eifert caught a measly 5 touchdowns but a back injury held him to only 8 games and in 2017 he didn’t even catch a touchdown as he missed 14 games with yet another back injury. In 2018, it was looking like it was going to be a bounce back year with 15 catches for 179-yards along with a touchdown before a gruesome ankle injury against the Atlanta Falcons ended his season midway through Week 4. Shockingly enough, Eifert played a full 16 game season in 2019 but Dalton and rookie, Ryan Finley hardly looked his direction as he finished with 43 catches for 436-yards and 3 touchdowns but it was time for the franchise to move on and look to improve on nearly every position come draft day.
Tyler Eifert is an all around solid player if he stays healthy and injury free, but he is no George Kittle, one can say he is relatable to the Minnesota Vikings TE, Kyle Rudolph who is a solid route runner and can create seperation off the line of scrimmage. It’s always a plus to add veteran leadership, something the Jaguars have been missing for the past couple of seasons, Efiert should be able to gel with second year quarterback, Gardner Minshew who mainly threw to his tight ends for the first half of the season before the injury bug came around. This move was also projected to happen thanks to the Jaguars hiring former Bengals offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden who was developing Eifert his rookie year. Have the Jaguars learned from their mistakes? Ever since the lopsided Calais Campbell trade, the Jaguars have made a few smart moves purchasing defensive tackle, Al Woods and defensive lineman, Rodney Gunter as well as Tyler Eifert. If the miraculous chance of Eifert, O'Shaughnessy and Oliver stay healthy, the Jaguars have the best tight end trio in the AFC South and depending on how the draft goes, this team may shock the world and make a playoff spot (again). Scratch that, “Skipper” Marrone is still steering the Titanic.