February 22nd, 2021 at 6:00pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The upcoming free agent tight end market is getting another notable name. The Jaguars will decline the 2021 option on Tyler Eifert‘s contract, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.
As Rapsheet points out Eifert had been set to make a little under $5MM in 2021, and they understandably viewed that as a little hefty given his production this past season. In 15 games and four starts with the Jags in 2020, he caught 36 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns. It was his first year in Jacksonville after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Bengals. The receiving numbers don’t jump off the page, but on the bright side he was able to stay healthy for the second season in a row.
Eifert broke out and became a big name during the 2015 season, when he turned a strong connection with Andy Dalton into a whopping 13 touchdowns and a Pro Bowl berth. Unfortunately things went downhill fast after that due to a string of serious injuries, and he would only play in 14 total games over the next three seasons.
The 21st overall pick of the 2013 draft bounced back to play all 16 games in 2019, which earned him the two-year contract from the Jaguars which turned out to be one year plus an option. Eifert will now be hitting a tight end market that has some solid options, including Hunter Henry, Rob Gronkowski, Jonnu Smith, Gerald Everett, and Jared Cook.
Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden knows what he’s getting – or what he’s potentially getting – in tight end Tyler Eifert. Gruden was Eifert’s OC for his rookie year in Cincinnati and watched him flash serious promise. From 2014-2018, Gruden watched from afar as Eifert struggled to stay healthy. Now, they’re reunited in Jacksonville, and Eifert believes big things are in store.
“We get along great,” Eifert said (via John Reid of the Florida Times-Union). “I had a good understanding of the offense he runs. Just having that familiarity with the offense is nice. There’s some new stuff in here. But just being familiar with it and having a general idea of what’s going on makes it a lot easier to learn.”
Last year, Eifert caught 43 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns for a sagging Bengals team. More importantly, he was on the field for all 16 games. This year, he’ll try to keep the streak going.
Here’s more from the AFC South:
There’s been lots of talk about a potential extension for Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, but he’s not the only player on the team with a re-up to consider. Stephen Holder of The Athletic ran down Indy’s top candidates, a list that includes center Ryan Kelly, linebacker Darius Leonard, running back Marlon Mack, safety Malik Hooker, and linebacker Anthony Walker. Hooker, of course, is unlikely to sign a new deal before the season starts – the Colts declined his fifth-year option earlier this month, a move that puzzled many and put him on course for free agency following the 2020 season.
At 6’2″ and 213 pounds, Lonnie Johnson Jr. seems like a natural for the safety position. However, Texans defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver plans to keep him at cornerback, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. “We got to get his confidence right, and I don’t think he lacks in that area,” Weaver said on a Zoom call. “That rookie year for a corner is difficult. I think he’s going to come in now with more knowledge not only of the system, but DB play in general. And I expect him to take a jump here in year two.” Johnson was inconsistent during the regular season, but he did get a good deal of starting experience. And, as Wilson notes, he made a key deflection on Travis Kelce to help the Texans upset the Chiefs in October (KC, of course, got their revenge in January). Johnson staying at CB, in theory, could improve the chances of Eric Reidjoining his brother in the Texans’ secondary.
The Titans are said to have some degree of interest in Jadeveon Clowney, but former Texans colleague and current Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel says he hasn’t talked to him.
We already took a look at NFC contract details, so let’s switch focus to the other conference. Like last time, all notes via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter:
TylerEifert, TE (Jaguars): Two years. Worth $9.5MM, including $3.25MM guaranteed. $2.25MM signing bonus. $1.25MM per-game roster bonus, $2M in incentives (2020). Up to $1M per-game roster bonus, $2M in incentives (2021, if options is exercised).
SheldonDay, DT (Colts): Signed. One-year, $1.75M deal, including $1MM guaranteed. $500K signing bonus, $1MM salary (of which $500K is guaranteed). Up to $250K in per-game roster bonuses.
Tight endTyler Eifert and the Jaguars have agreed to a two-year contract, per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network (via Twitter). He’s set to earn $15.5MM over the course of the deal, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
Eifert has one of the most extensive injury histories among active players, but he has also proven to be a productive receiver when healthy. He played in 16 games for the first time as a pro last season.
The seven-year veteran quietly posted 436 receiving yards and three touchdowns for the 2-14 Bengals in 2019. Eifert re-signed with Cincinnati on one-year deals in 2018 and ’19 but now leaves the team after seven seasons.
Eifert signed for $5.5MM in 2018 and $4MM last year. The 29-year-old tight end was a trade candidate at the October deadline, but the Bengals opted not to make any in-season sell-off moves.
Injuries have limited Eifert throughout his career. He missed 15 games in 2014, eight in 2016, 14 in 2017 and 12 in 2018. The one season when the former first-round pick managed to put it together — 2015 — has helped keep him on the radar. The Notre Dame product caught 13 touchdown passes that season, one that doubled as the Bengals’ most successful campaign in a generation.
The Jaguars have struggled to fill their TE post for years. After their Julius Thomas signing did not work out, they have generated next to nothing from this position. James O’Shaughnessy led Jags tight ends with 214 and 153 receiving yards over the past two seasons, respectively. Jacksonville selected Josh Oliver in the third round last year, but an injury limited him to four games as a rookie.
The trade deadline is two days away, so there are plenty of rumors to pass along. Of course, many of those rumors center around this year’s non-contenders, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says that two such teams — the Redskins and Bengals — continue to rebuff inquiries concerning veterans who should be available. Rival GMs have grown increasingly frustrated with Washington and Cincinnati, and La Canfora says opposing clubs have become resigned to the fact that they are not going to be able to swing a deal with those obstinate franchises. That means that a number of big names — Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, A.J. Green, and Carlos Dunlap, to name a few — are looking more and more likely to stay put.
Now for more trade rumors from around the league, starting with another nugget out of Cincinnati:
Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is decidedly not on the trading block, but teams have still called Houston to ask about the star wideout, as Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweets. That obviously sounds like clubs doing their due diligence more than anything else, and Glazer acknowledges that it would take an awful lot for the Texans to move Hopkins.
The Lions have received calls on CB Darius Slay, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It would take a big offer to pry Slay from Detroit, but in the wake of Slay’s comments earlier this week, maybe the Lions will be more inclined to move him.
RB-needy teams have called the Seahawks to inquire on Rashaad Penny, as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reports (video link). Penny is not on the block, per se, but the 2018 first-rounder is drawing interest. In the same video, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says Chargers RB Melvin Gordon could also be on the move.
Schefter reports that the 49ers have received calls on backup QB C.J. Beathard, whom Schefter suggests could be on the move.
The Falcons have fielded calls on DT Tyeler Davison, per Lombardi, but Atlanta has told other teams Davison will not be moved. The team is also going to hang on to TE Austin Hooper, as Schefter tweets.
Janoris Jenkins is another member of the Giants who could be on the move, and while he is likely open to joining a contender, he just wants New York to be transparent with their plans for him, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes. That sentiment was also expressed by former Giants like Landon Collins and Odell Beckham Jr., who both felt as though Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman were not straightforward with them. Dunleavy names the Chiefs as a potential landing spot for Jenkins.
Even with Sanu in the fold, La Canfora says the Pats are still expected to pursue receiver help, and although all indications are that the Bengals won’t trade A.J. Green prior to Tuesday’s deadline, rival GMs expect Bill Belichick to take a run at him just the same. As reported previously, the club is also interested in bolstering its tight end group, and Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert and Tampa’s O.J. Howard appeal to the Patriots. Additionally, New England remains in the market for O-line upgrades, with Washington’s Trent Williams, Cincinnati’s Cordy Glenn, and old friend and current Giant Nate Solder also potential targets.
Now for more out of Foxborough:
Despite La Canfora’s report that the Patriots will continue to be aggressive in the trade market, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic says the Pats are not involved in any deals right now, as they are quite limited in cap room (Twitter link). The Bennett trade helped to facilitate the Sanu acquisition, but if New England is going to make another splash, it may need to cut or restructure another player.
For the first time in 20 years, Tom Brady‘s future is uncertain, and one of the league’s most respected reporters, Adam Schefter, recently said that Brady staying with the Pats beyond 2019 is less likely than his retiring or suiting up for another club. Another of the NFL’s most prominent scribes, Ian Rapoport, doesn’t go as far as Schefter, but he does say that Brady’s tone with respect to his future has changed dramatically, and RapSheet confirms that TB12’s 2020 plans are very much up in the air (video link). On the other hand, Schefter points out that Brady’s strong relationships with Belichick and owner Robert Kraft — which were reportedly strained not that long ago — could convince the future Hall-of-Famer to stay in New England.
Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski recently stated in no uncertain terms that he would remain retired, but as Stefan Geller of the Boston Herald writes, that could still change. Gronk is calling on the league to allow players to use CBD products to aid in their recoveries, and if that happens, he suggested he could come back. “I also want to have the option to get back into the game, and if I’m banned next year, I can’t,” Gronkowski said. Gronkowski, obviously, is using CBD products and recently partnered with CBD Medic.
Tom Pelissero of NFL.com names Patriots special teams/WRs coach Joe Judge and ILB coach Jerod Mayo as two assistants who could garner head coaching interest during next year’s coaching carousel. While it would be a stretch to see the 33-year-old Mayo as an HC in 2020, especially since he just became an NFL coach seven month ago, it would not be surprising to see him get an interview.
Teams continue to ask about Austin Hooper, whose 526 receiving yards sit 11th in the NFL entering Week 8. However, the Falcons have spurned suitors who’ve called about the emerging tight end, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Hooper is in a contract year, but the Falcons believe they have a chance to re-sign him. The Falcons, though, are the team doing the contacting regarding Vic Beasley. Atlanta is shopping its former All-Pro defensive end, who is playing out a $12.8MM fifth-year option. Pass rushers are obviously valuable, but with Beasley’s play having fallen off since that 2016 breakthrough, the return might not be what the Falcons seek.
Here is the latest from the trade market:
The Redskins continue to respond with hard nos when asked about Trent Williams, but Breer adds Josh Norman‘s name has been floated around. With Norman having not lived up to the $15MM-AAV contract he signed in 2016, it would be hard to imagine the Redskins getting much value for the eighth-year cornerback.
A cornerback performing better continues to look likelier to stay put. Chris Harris does not expect to be traded, and Troy Renck of Denver7 notes the Broncos are not as motivated to deal their four-time Pro Bowler as they were to ship out Emmanuel Sanders. A second-round pick would likely be necessary here, per Breer. Considering the Broncos’ issues finding corners as of late, dealing Harris would create a massive offseason need in Denver.
The Bengals are 0-7, and A.J. Green continues to come up in trade rumors. But the old-school organization isn’t budging. Mike Brown has not signed off on a firesale, Breer adds, instead preferring to provide first-year HC Zac Taylor with a foundation. That project is not going well so far, with the veteran-laden team performing poorly. Cincinnati’s potential trade chips also include franchise sack leaders Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Neither appears to be a departure candidate. Tyler Eifert is a name Breer mentions could be dealt, but the tight end obviously has a significant injury history that would limit a return.
As for the expensive New York corners, Janoris Jenkins has generated more interest than Trumaine Johnson. The Giants have shopped Jenkins around some, per Breer, while Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes it would require “a miracle” for a team to take Johnson’s salary off the Jets‘ payroll. Jenkins is signed through 2020, with $5.37MM remaining in 2019 salary.
In addition to the Saints exploring receiver additions, the Bills, Eagles and Packers are as well, Breer notes. This could heat up the Robby Anderson market, but Breer adds Browns wideout Rashard Higgins has been discussed in advance of Tuesday’s deadline. The backup is in a contract year. However, Higgins has battled knee issues and has only played in one 2019 game.
With Mark Andrews having outproduced Hayden Hurst, the Ravens have received calls on their 2018 top pick. As of now, however, Hurst is not believed to be available, per Breer.
The NFL has experienced a dramatic rise in significant trades over the past several years, and there may be a few noteworthy swaps going down this month as we get closer to the October 29 trade deadline. Indeed, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says there is a sense among general managers that we may see more trades in advance of this year’s deadline than ever before, largely because there is a larger gulf between pretenders and contenders than in seasons past (indeed, there are still six winless teams, which is the highest number at this point in the season since the 1970 merger).
La Canfora says the teams most actively laying groundwork for potential deals are the Saints, Eagles, Ravens, Chiefs, Patriots, and Seahawks. Of course, a number of those clubs have already been pursuing Jacksonville CB Jalen Ramsey, and the Saints, Eagles, Ravens, and Chiefs are casting a wide net for cornerback upgrades.
One of this year’s still-winless clubs, the Broncos, are reportedly more open to moving veteran pieces than they were last year, as La Canfora writes in a separate piece, with Derek Wolfe, Chris Harris, and Emmanuel Sanders all generating interest. Wolfe could make sense for Baltimore, and the Saints are expected to renew their pursuit of Sanders. Even Von Miller could be on the block, per La Canfora, especially since all of his major bonuses and guarantees have already been paid. Miller, 30, is reportedly open to a change of scenery at this point, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says the Broncos will not trade him (video link). However, the other players mentioned above could be available if Denver continues to scuffle.
But while Denver may be willing to talk shop, rival GMs are skeptical that the 0-4 Bengals, led by old-school owner Mike Brown, will be amenable to moving big-name vets despite their fading fortunes. La Canfora’s sources say Cincinnati could net a first-round pick for WR A.J. Green if the acquiring club is able to work out a new contract with him as a condition of the trade (and if Green recovers from his foot injury soon). The Patriots and Saints could make a push for Green or Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, and Cincy could also swing deals for players like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlapif the club is willing to listen to offers.
Finally, though the 0-4 Redskins have been steadfastly refusing to trade Trent Williams, some believe that the team will relent at some point and will ship Williams to a contender in need of O-line help.
The Browns refuse to grant Duke Johnson‘s request for a trade, but the running back is expected to show for OTAs, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. But the veteran Browns reporter notes Johnson was not on the field for the first session of Cleveland’s Tuesday workouts. Johnson, understandably, is concerned about his role behind rising star Nick Chubb and new pickup Kareem Hunt, although Hunt will be suspended for the first half of the season. The veteran passing-down back has drawn interest from other teams this offseason, but John Dorsey has insisted that Johnson is in the Browns’ 2019 plans. Despite Dorsey having parted ways with most of the players from previous regimes, he has kept Johnson around. The Dorsey regime extended Johnson in June of 2018. Three years remain on his deal.
Here is the latest from the AFC North:
It does not appear the Steelers are having second thoughts about Mike Tomlin, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac calling a Tomlin extension a “when, not if” situation. Two years remain on Tomlin’s deal, and the Steelers have made a habit of extending their coach when two years were left on previous contracts. Tomlin’s recent Steelers teams have either underachieved or were racked with turmoil, and Dulac adds it would not be unreasonable for Art Rooney II to table an extension for a year. However, Tomlin will likely receive a notable raise because of recent deals handed out to John Harbaugh ($9MM per year), Jon Gruden ($10MM AAV) and Pete Carroll (nearly $11MM annually), Dulac notes. Entering his 13th year with the Steelers, Tomlin is believed to earn just more than $7MM per year.
Darqueze Dennard will not participate in near-future Bengals workouts due to having undergone knee surgery earlier this offseason. The operation occurred between the time Dennard re-signed with the Bengals and their offseason program, and Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com notes the team was aware the cornerback needed this arthroscopic procedure done upon re-signing him. The current hope is the slot corner returns for Cincinnati’s minicamp next month.
Conversely, Tyler Eifert has been participating in the Bengals’ offseason activities thus far. The injury-prone (perhaps putting it mildly) tight end said he’s “doing pretty much everything” during Bengals workouts, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Eifert’s latest injury interruption came when he suffered an ugly broken ankle early last season. He underwent surgery in October. Despite the spree of setbacks, the former first-round pick stands to be (if healthy) the Bengals’ top receiving tight end.
Third-year Bengals defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow expects to be cleared to return by training camp, Dehner adds. The 2017 fourth-round pick tore his ACL in Week 3 of last season. Pro Football Focus offered a strong endorsement of Glasgow’s brief 2018 work sample, though it was cut short after just 92 snaps.
The Steelers waived offensive lineman R.J. Prince on Monday. He cleared waivers but has a Ravens workout scheduled for Wednesday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. A 2018 UDFA, Prince spent time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad last season.
Mychal Kendricks, LB (Seahawks): One year, $4.5MM. $2MM base salary. $250K training camp bonus. $250K bonus for being on Seattle’s 53-man roster in Week 1. $1MM in incentives (playing time, sacks), Wilson tweets.