Tyler Eifert

Bengals Place Tyler Eifert On IR

Vontaze Burfict is back. On Friday, the Bengals activated the linebacker and formally placed tight end Tyler Eifert on injured reserve. 

Burfict was suspended for the first four weeks of the season thanks to a PED suspension. He’s no stranger to bans, having drawn multiple punishments from the league office for violating safety rules, but this was his first for banned performance enhancers. Over the last five years, he’s missed 32 regular season games thanks to injuries and suspensions. Despite it all, Burfict remains one of the very best linebackers in the NFL. In 2017, Burfict managed 69 tackles and 1.5 sacks in ten games.

Eifert has also missed a boatload of time over the last five years, playing in just 28 regular season games out of a possible 80. His latest injury, a broken ankle, will rule him out for the remainder of the year.

It’s yet another tough blow for Eifert, who is one of the league’s most talented tight ends. Before he exited the Bengals’ game against the Falcons, Eifert was displaying some of his old form and had four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. Through four games, the former first-rounder had 15 grabs for 179 yards in total.

The oft-injured Eifert re-signed with the Bengals this offseason on a one-year, $5.5MM deal. When he hits free agency in March, he’ll likely be looking at yet another one-year platform deal, perhaps with less in base compensation.

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Bengals TE Tyler Eifert Carted Off Field

UPDATE: Eifert suffered a broken ankle and will undergo surgery, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). It will end the tight end’s season.

Tyler Eifert‘s hopes for a comeback season took a major hit on Sunday afternoon. The Bengals tight end suffered a lower right leg injury during today’s game against the Falcons. D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described the injury as “horrific” while NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that it was “gruesome.”

The tight end had hauled in four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown up to that point, and he was injured following a tackle by Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell. Eifert was ultimately carted off the field with his right ankle in an aircast. Dr. David J. Chao (otherwise known as the Pro Football Doc) tweets that the injury is a definite season-ender, and it will require surgery. However, Chao cautions that the injury can’t be attributed to Eifert’s continuous injury issues, and he doesn’t believe it will end the 28-year-old’s career.

It’s a tough blow for Eifert, who has continually battled injury problems throughout his career. Since the beginning of the 2014 season, the tight end has missed 40 total regular season games, and he’s struggled through back, ankle, and elbow ailments. The former first-rounder had appeared in the Bengals’ first three games this season, hauling in 11 receptions for 141 yards. His best season came back in 2015, when he caught 13 touchdowns in 13 games.

Assuming Eifert is out for the foreseeable future, the Bengals will be forced to lean on their other tight ends. C.J. Uzomah will continue to sit atop the depth chart, and the team could also turn to Tyler Kroft and Mason Schreck.

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AFC North Notes: Eifert, Browns, DeCastro

Despite being one of the NFL’s biggest injury risks, Tyler Eifert returned to the Bengals this offseason. The team that used a first-round pick on the former Notre Dame tight end has a plan for trying to prevent another significant setback, though. The Bengals are going to try to limit Eifert’s snaps, Marvin Lewis said (via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer). Since Eifert’s Pro Bowl 2015 season, he’s played in only 11 games. With Eifert being most effective in the red zone (20 career touchdown receptions, 19 from inside the 20, per Dehner), that will surely be a place the Bengals try to deploy the sixth-year pass-catcher. But Lewis identifies Eifert as the team’s best blocking tight end, too. Eifert averaged 58 snaps per game during the 2015 season. Lewis doesn’t envision his starting tight end getting there again.

Well I hope he never gets 50,” Lewis said. “It’s a plan thing. There are certain things (OC Bill Lazor) is going to plan to do with him on the field, both runs and passes. I think that and then using him as a decoy at times to help open up other things for the other guys.”

This plan may limit Eifert financially. He has $3MM tied up in performance incentives, ones that will become difficult to reach if the Bengals place heavy restrictions on his usage. He played 23 snaps against the Colts.

Here’s the latest from the AFC North:

  • Emmanuel Ogbah‘s run into injury trouble again. Hue Jackson didn’t believe the third-year edge defender suffered a high ankle sprain but said (via ohio.com’s Nate Ulrich) it was “something like that” and that Ogbah will miss time. Chris Smith entered the fray as Myles Garrett‘s sidekick following Ogbah’s first-quarter injury and should be expected to start Sunday against the Saints. Recent waiver claim Anthony Zettel should have a role, too, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes. Ogbah saw a foot injury halt his momentum last year and end his season. His development was part of the reason the Browns selected Denzel Ward over Bradley Chubb.
  • The Browns‘ left tackle position contributed to several NFL news cycles this offseason, due to Joe Thomas‘ retirement and the layered search for his replacement. But Jackson insists no change will commence between Week 1 and Week 2. Desmond Harrison will remain the Browns’ left tackle, per Jackson (via the Lorain Morning Journal’s Jeff Schudel, on Twitter). The rookie UDFA made the start, despite Greg Robinson and 2018 second-round pick Austin Corbett residing on the roster. Pro Football Focus graded Harrison as the second-worst full-time tackle in his debut, and Rotoworld’s Evan Silva adds (on Twitter) Harrison allowed the most hurries of any lineman last week.
  • Kenneth Dixon suffered a knee injury in the Ravens‘ blowout win in Buffalo, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com expects (Twitter link) it to keep him out for several weeks. Dixon scored a touchdown against the Bills after missing the entire 2017 season. Buck Allen should move into the role of Alex Collins‘ backup for the time being.
  • David DeCastro fractured his hand on Sunday, and Mike Tomlin said this could limit him going forward. But the veteran Steelers blocker expects to play Sunday against the Chiefs, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Bengals’ Tyler Eifert Passes Physical

Great news for the Bengals. Tight end Tyler Eifert has passed his physical and has been removed from the offseason PUP list, the team announced on Monday. 

Eifert has been recovering from back surgery and his status for training camp was unclear. During voluntary offseason team activities, he was limited in his participation, but it sounds like he’s on the right track for summer practices and playing in Week 1.

When he’s on the field, Eifert is among the best tight ends in the game. Unfortunately, injuries have defined his career. The 2015 Pro Bowler has missed 51% of the Bengals’ regular season games since 2013. He missed 14 games last season and eight in 2016.

In March, Eifert re-signed with the Bengals for $5.5MM on a one-year deal. Needless to say, this is a pivotal season for Eifert’s future with the Bengals and his overall future in the league.

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Tyler Eifert Uncertain For Training Camp

Although Tyler Eifert received medical clearance early in the offseason, the Bengals are holding the recently re-signed tight end out of minicamp this week. And Marvin Lewis isn’t sure if that setup will change once the team reconvenes in late July for training camp.

Lewis said, via Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, he doesn’t know if Eifert is going to be back by the time training camp begins. He’s recovering from back surgery after back problems defined a second straight season. Eifert was a limited OTAs participant.

The Bengals’ working out at Paul Brown Stadium could be a factor here. Lewis said the field being redone earlier this month has affected how the team is proceeding with Eifert. It can be expected that Eifert, who re-signed with Cincinnati for $5.5MM on a one-year deal, will return to work at training camp. It’s just not known if the sixth-year tight end will do so from the outset.

There’s no reason to get him jostled,” Lewis said. “Just ease his way into things. No setback. We’re trying to make sure we manage everything they want him to do.”

Health’s obviously been the defining component in Eifert’s NFL career, and he’s at a career crossroads because of it. The 2015 Pro Bowler has missed 51 percent of the regular-season games during his Bengals run. He missed 14 games last season and eight in 2016.

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North Notes: Packers, Q. Diggs, Conner

We heard last month that the Packers would be going “back to Page 1” of their playbook, but as Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal writes, Green Bay is not going to be making any wholesale changes to its offense. In light of all of the new voices on the offensive side of the ball this year — Joe Philbin is back as OC, Frank Cignetti Jr. is in as quarterbacks coach, and there are several other staff changes besides — it made sense for all involved to thoroughly review the team’s play design and philosophy. But as Philbin said, “It’s been a process of refining, enhancing, tweaking, as opposed to, ‘Yeah we scrubbed it down.’ Yes, we went page by page. (But) we’re not starting from scratch here. These players in that locker room, they’ve done some great things.” 

Philbin, of course, is primarily referring to star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers indicated that verbiage has changed — and Philbin acknowledged that such changes were made in order to streamline the playcalling — and that has created something of a learning curve. But passing game Jim Hostler said that the goal is for the offense to look the same as it always has with Rodgers under center, even if there are some refinements and enhancements here and there.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Opposing defenses were already treating Packers WR Davante Adams as the team’s No. 1 wideout last season, so the departure of Jordy Nelson will not represent much of a change in that regard, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. But Green Bay has not (yet) signed a veteran wideout to replace Nelson, so Adams will need to take on a more active role in terms of leadership. The Packers drafted three receivers this year — one each in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds — and return 24-year-old Geronimo Allison as the presumed No. 3 WR on the depth chart, so Adams is suddenly the second-oldest player in the wide receiver room. He was not present for the start of OTAs, which caused some concern in light of his concussion history, but neither player nor team seem concerned about his availability. Head coach Mike McCarthy simply said Adams is “battling a couple things,” presumably minor injuries.
  • Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com says Quandre Diggs has a real chance to permanently supplant Tavon Wilson as the Lions‘ starting strong safety in 2018. Diggs, a former sixth-round selection, played well in that role last season, and Rothstein suggests he may even be the favorite to start at this point. Miles Killebrew, a former fourth-round choice, appears to be on the outside looking in and may need to continue to stand out on special teams to retain his roster spot.
  • James Conner, a feel-good story and 2017 third-round choice, is featuring prominently in Steelers‘ OTAs due to Le’Veon Bell‘s continued absence, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. Conner showed flashes in his rookie campaign, which ended with a Week 15 MCL tear, but if he can cement himself as the team’s No. 2 back behind Bell this season — and he will need to improve in pass protection in order to do so — that could be the first step towards a starting job in 2019, depending on Bell’s contract situation.
  • John Ross is once again a full participant in the Bengals‘ OTAs, as Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer observes. Although Ross dropped a few passes, he also made some difficult grabs and is seeing a lot of passes come his way. Tyler Eifert, meanwhile, is a limited participant, but having both players involved at the beginning of full team work is a beautiful thing for Cincinnati fans.
  • Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague.com (via Twitter) details a few more changes to the Browns‘ scouting department that were not covered several days ago.

North Rumors: Bengals, Lions, Packers

Some more clarity regarding Tyler Eifert‘s incentive-laden Bengals contract emerged. The tight end’s deal contains some interesting benchmarks for financial rewards, ones that would seemingly be within reach should Eifert stay healthy. The sixth-year tight end has $3MM in possible performance incentives included in his one-year agreement. Additionally, $62.5K will come Eifert’s way for every game he plays.

As for the performance thresholds, Eifert will collect $250K for catching 50 passes in 2018. The former first-round pick getting to 55 receptions would bring another $250K his way, with the 60- and 65-catch barriers representing $250K triggers as well. Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports these catch incentives max out at $1MM, adding the yardage bonuses do as well. The 500-yard mark represents the first $250K trigger, with the next $250K bonus benchmarks coming at 550, 600 and 650 yards, per Owczarski. As for touchdown receptions, Eifert snaring five would bring him $250K. Each additional touchdown would bring him $250K apiece as well, and this incentive category also maxes out at $1MM.

Eifert scored a tight ends-best 13 TDs in 2015 but only has five since. He only exceeded 500 yards once (in ’15, with 615 yards) and caught a career-high 52 passes that year. He didn’t come close to 50 catches in a season in any other year, so describing these as “likely to be earned” incentives is pushing it.

Here’s the latest from some North-division franchises, continuing with news from the Cincinnati offensive front:

  • Cedric Ogbuehi may be shuttled back to right tackle, a position at which he previously said he wasn’t comfortable. The former first-round pick will compete with both Cordy Glenn and Jake Fisher for the starting tackle jobs, per Marvin Lewis (via Owczarski), but the 16th-year coach said the team expects Glenn to start on the left side. Ogbuehi has started 25 games over the past two years but has dealt with injuries in both, and each season involved him being in a rotation rather than being a full-time player throughout each campaign. Owczarski notes it’s unlikely the Bengals pick up his fifth-year option, which is expected to be for nearly $10MM.
  • Speaking of northern line movement, the Lions plan to try Graham Glasgow at center instead of guard, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reportsWesley Johnson could be set for a backup job. Birkett writes free agent Kenny Wiggins and 2016 fifth-rounder Joe Dahl will compete for at the guard spot opposite T.J. Lang. Wiggins started 16 games for the Chargers at right guard last season. However, Glasgow — who rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 20 guard last season — may stay at guard if the Lions deem Johnson solid enough to start at center. Johnson is only making $880K this season, which would gibe with backup status.
  • Both Ziggy Ansah and wideout T.J. Jones underwent offseason surgeries, per Birkett, who describes Ansah’s as a “minor cleanup” on his knee. Jones had a shoulder operation. Birkett adds Kerry Hyder‘s return goal is training camp. The defensive lineman tore his Achilles’ tendon last season.
  • Ansah remains in Ghana for family reasons, but Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweets the franchise-tagged defensive end has kept Matt Patricia and the organization in the loop and is expected to return to the team shortly. Birkett writes Ansah could sign his franchise tender as early as the spring rather than having this drag into July. The Lions are not expected to pursue a long-term extension with their top pass rusher at this point.
  • The Packers shook up their offensive coaching staff this offseason, and it sounds like their playbook will reflect that. While refusing to divulge specifics, Mike McCarthy said recently (via Pete Daugherty of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) the team will “go back to Page 1” of the playbook. Joe Philbin, Jim Hostler and Frank Cignetti are now key offensive assistants, so their input may well be reflected in these changes.

Rams Pursued Bengals TE Tyler Eifert

Tyler Eifert is back with the Bengals, but he garnered interest elsewhere in free agency before re-signing. Eifert’s decision ultimately came down to the Bengals and the Rams, Jim Owczarski of The Enquirer reports. 

But at the end of the day I knew where I wanted to be, which was with the Bengals,” the tight end said. “From the beginning, I told everyone that it would take something pretty special for me to leave. It would have to be an obvious decision.”

The Rams made Eifert a strong offer, but the Bengals pounced on their opportunity to match. The tight end’s new one-year deal is worth $5.5MM, but performance incentives could allow him to earn roughly $8.5MM in 2018. If Eifert plays in all 16 games, something that he has not done in his career and hasn’t come close to doing since 2015, he can add $1MM to his bank account. He can then earn an extra $3MM via receptions, receiving yards and touchdown incentives.

I felt like I owed that to the organization, to Mr. Brown, to coach Lewis and to the fans, especially the way the first five years of my career have gone; up and down,” Eifert said of rejecting L.A.’s overtures. “I felt like (I had to) to keep them in the loop. I knew that’s where I wanted to be, so I’m happy about that.”

Eifert would have been a risky, but potentially rewarding, addition for the Rams. Of course, L.A. is not lacking for star power after adding notables like Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and, most recently, wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Tight end remains a need for L.A., but they can find support for current depth chart topper Tyler Higbee in the draft later this month.

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AFC Contract Details: Crabtree, Williamson

Here are figures on some of the recent contracts signed around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise.

Bengals To Re-Sign Tyler Eifert

Tyler Eifert will not be leaving Cincinnati. Instead, the Bengals will hang onto him via one-year deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Injuries have limited Eifert for much of his career, but when he’s been available, he’s been one of the NFL’s top red zone threats. The Bengals appear to be keen on seeing if their former first-round pick can stay healthy.

Entering his age-28 season, Eifert has missed 41 of a possible 80 regular-season games since coming to Cincinnati. He missed 14 games last season and eight in 2016. But his 2015 work likely garnered him this opportunity from the continuity-centric organization. Eifert amassed 615 air yards and scored 13 touchdowns — the most by any tight end that season. And Eifert missed three games that year.

Doctors cleared Eifert to resume work a few weeks ago after his October back surgery, however. But the Bengals weren’t showing much interest in retaining their injury-prone pass-catcher at that point. Now, one of the top tight ends (ability-wise) is off the market.

While Eifert’s injury trouble may make it difficult for any team to count on him in the near future, or if he’s back on the market a year from now, he’ll have another chance to show the kind of ability he did three years ago. This season figures to be crucial for the Notre Dame product through that lens.

[RELATED: Bengals Depth Chart]

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