Tyler Kroft

Tyler Kroft Seeking Contract Extension

Tyler Eifert is one of the most talented receiving tight ends in the league, but he just can’t seem to stay healthy. An unrestricted free agent this past offseason, he could have earned a massive payday if he had proven to be more durable. But he missed almost all of the 2017 campaign with a back injury, and he has missed over half of Cincinnati’s regular-season games during his tenure with the club. Ultimately, he signed a one-year deal worth up to $8.5MM to stay with the Bengals in 2018, which is still a nice chunk of change, but nowhere near what his talent itself would otherwise command.

But another Tyler and tight end, Rutgers product Tyler Kroft, emerged during Eifert’s absence last year, posting 42 catches for 404 yards and seven scores. The 2015 third-round selection picked a good time to establish himself as a receiving threat, as he is entering his contract year and, much like Trey Burton this offseason, could score a lucrative free agent pact even if he plays second fiddle to Eifert in 2018.

Kroft is fully aware of his contract status, and per Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, he would like to land a second contract from the team that drafted him. Kroft, however, does not want to dwell on the matter. He said, “[A new contract is] in the back of my head but I’m trying not to give it too much thought and try and control what I can control. That’s basically how I’ve been trying to think about it. Not get too excited or too down.”

He did, though, express confidence in his abilities and his role in the offense, which could be increased even more if Eifert — whose availability for training camp is already uncertain — once again struggles to stay on the field. If the Bengals are similarly confident in Kroft’s long-term prospects, they may want to lock him up now before his asking price continues to go up. After all, compared to his counterpart, Kroft has been a bastion of durability, having played in 46 of a possible 48 regular-season games over his first three years in the league.

In other Bengals news, Owczarski reports that Cedric Ogbuehi is (surprisingly) building momentum towards landing the team’s starting right tackle spot. Ogbuehi has been a major disappointment since the Bengals selected him in the first round of the 2015 draft, but he has looked good in spring practices and has adapted well to offensive line coach Frank Pollack‘s new scheme and techniques.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2018 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Jay Ajayi (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.908MM in 2018. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2018 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Trent Brown, T; Eli Harold, LB

Bears: Adrian Amos, S

Bengals: Tyler Kroft, TE; Josh Shaw, DB

Bills: John Miller, G

Broncos: Max Garcia, G; Trevor Siemian, QB

Browns: Duke Johnson, RB

Buccaneers: Kwon Alexander, LB

Cardinals: David Johnson, RB; J.J. Nelson, WR

Chargers: Kyle Emanuel, LB

Chiefs: Chris Conley, WR; Steven Nelson, CB

Colts: Henry Anderson, DE; Mark Glowinski, G; Denzelle Good, OL

Dolphins: Bobby McCain, CB

Eagles: Jay Ajayi, RB; Jordan Hicks, LB

Falcons: Grady Jarrett, DT

Jaguars: A.J. Cann, OL

Lions: Quandre Diggs, CB

Packers: Jake Ryan, LB

Panthers: Daryl Williams, T

Patriots: Trey Flowers, DE; Shaq Mason, G

Raiders: Clive Walford, TE

Rams: Jamon Brown, G

Ravens: Za’Darius Smith, LB

Redskins: T.J. Clemmings, OL; Jamison Crowder, WR

Saints: Tyeler Davison, DT

Seahawks: Tyler Lockett, WR

Steelers: Jesse James, TE

Vikings: Stefon Diggs, WR; Danielle Hunter, DE

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Minor Moves: Thursday

Here are Thursday’s minor transactions from around the NFL, including the latest mid-to-late-round draft pick signings:

  • As first tweeted by agent Mike McCartney, third-round tight end Tyler Kroft has signed his rookie contract with the Bengals. Per Over The Cap, Kroft’s four-year pact will be worth about $2.928MM, including a $648K signing bonus. First-round offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi is now the only Cincinnati draftee who remains unsigned.
  • The Cowboys have also signed all their draft picks besides their first-rounder. According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com (Twitter link), the club locked up fourth-round linebacker Damien Wilson today, signing him to a four-year deal that features a signing bonus worth about $466K.
  • The Jets have cut quarterback Matt Simms, the club announced today in a press release. Given the presence of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, and Bryce Petty, there wasn’t much chance that Simms would make the Jets’ regular season roster. According to Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link), Simms asked New York to release him and the team obliged.
  • Former Oklahoma defensive back Julian Wilson, who signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent, was waived/injured by the team today after breaking his leg earlier this month, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. He’ll land on the injured reserve list, assuming he clears waivers.
  • The Buccaneers made a slight change to the back of their 90-man roster today, signing kicker Brandon Bogotay and waiving center Ben Gottschalk, per Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (Twitter link).
  • Washington has added a pair of cornerbacks to its roster, signing Trey Wolfe and Tajh Hasson, per a team release. Hasson went undrafted this year out of UNLV, while Wolfe spent some time on Washington’s taxi squad in 2014.

Draft Notes: Trades, Ekpre-Olomu, Ajayi, Bengals

A few more notes on what we’ve seen from the draft so far:

  • The Jets curiously switched spots with the Jaguars to select quarterback Bryce Petty. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), the Jets made the move because the Browns had made an offer to the Jags for the same pick, presumably so Cleveland could select Petty. However, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal reports that the Browns were not targeting Petty with that selection (via Twitter). The Bengals also inquired about trading up for that pick, writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • The Packers made a pretty big leap to move up in the fifth round, where they targeted UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, switching spots in the round and giving up only a seventh-round pick to do so. When asked how the deal came together, Packers Director of Player Personnel Eliot Wolf says the Patriots initiated talks, according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette (via Twitter).
  • Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu has dropped further in the NFL Draft than he would have liked due to an ACL injury he suffered in December, but the silver lining is that his insurance policy was triggered after he fell past the first picks of the third round, reports Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. The policy cost Oregon $40,000, and should pay out $3 million in a loss of value policy, but Alper notes that Darren Rovell of ESPN writes that no player has ever successfully collected on a policy of this type.
  • The Dolphins added Jay Ajayi with a fifth-round pick, despite reports that the Boise State running back failed some teams’ physicals leading up to the NFL Draft, writes Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (via Twitter). Ajayi be a one-contract player due to the results of those physicals, according to Beasley.
  • The Bengals have now added two tight ends in the 2015 NFL Draft, in Tyler Kroft of Rutgers and C.J. Azumah of Auburn. They needed depth at that position behind Tyler Eifert, who is returning from injury this season, and those picks signify that former first-round pick Jermaine Gresham will not return, writes Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter).

Draft Rumors: Gregory, AP, Wilkerson

Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory is regarded as one of the most talented players in this year’s NFL draft, but he remains available after the completion of the first round because of off-field issues. Gregory voiced his disappointment about his current undrafted status to Yahoo! Sports’ Rand Getlin on Friday (via Twitter).

“I feel like I let my family and the people who believe in me down, and I’m sorry for that,” said Gregory. “But I’m going to use this as fuel. The franchise that drafts me won’t have to worry about me off the field, but the teams that didn’t select me will have to worry about me on the field.”

Gregory went on to state that he is “the best defensive player in the draft.”

Here’s more as the second round of the draft draws nearer:

  • If the Jets are going to trade defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, it could take multiple first-round picks to land him, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. However, La Canfora notes that, after having drafted Leonard Williams with their first-round selection, the Jets would have a loaded defensive line even without Wilkerson. That may lead to a reduction in their asking price, and the likes of the Browns and Raiders could be possible destinations should the Jets move Wilkerson.
  • Friday could be the last real chance for the Vikings to trade Adrian Peterson, per LaCanfora. Peterson might fetch the Vikings a second-round pick if he’s willing to take a pay cut to play elsewhere.
  • Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman won’t stay on the board for long tonight, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Rapoport notes that Goldman is viewed as a first-round talent by many teams. 
  • Indiana’s Tevin Coleman could be the first running back taken tonight, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). A team tried to trade up for Coleman last night, Rapoport notes.
  • The first half of the second round could see several running backs and offensive lineman selected, according to La Canfora. Conversely, La Canfora doesn’t expect any tight ends to go for a while, noting that South Carolina’s Rory Anderson or Rutgers’ Tyler Kroft could be the first one taken.
  • La Canfora writes that Baylor’s Bryce Petty will likely be the first quarterback drafted Friday. The Bills, Rams, Saints and Chargers are among the teams that have done their homework on Petty.

Draft Notes: Eagles, Fowler, 49ers, Parker

The Eagles have signed three cornerbacks within the last month, adding E.J. Biggers today to go along with Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond, but the team continues to consider options at the position with the draft approaching. As Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com outlines, the team hosted LSU cornerback Jalen Collins, a potential scheme fit, on a pre-draft visit today.

Here are a few more draft-related updates from around the NFL:

  • Although he thinks he’ll probably end up in Jacksonville with the No. 3 overall pick, Dante Fowler Jr. is meeting with a couple NFC teams in the top 10, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, who tweets that the Florida pass rusher will visit the Buccaneers and Falcons this weekend.
  • The 49ers are meeting with Louisville receiver DeVante Parker, who is expected to be one of the first wideouts to come off the board, writes Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
  • UTC pass rusher Davis Tull, a former wide receiver, has pre-draft visits lined up with the Saints and Falcons, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • Over at The National Football Post, Aaron Wilson passes along updates on a pair of prospects, writing that Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian has visited the Broncos and is working out for the Bears, while Bowling Green linebacker Gabe Martin is visiting the Cowboys today.
  • Per Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link), the Cowboys “love” Damarious Randall, and consider the Arizona State alum the best safety in this year’s draft class.
  • Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft has had individual workouts with the Eagles, Jaguars, and Buccaneers, and is scheduled to visit the Bears and Broncos this week, says Dan Duggan of NJ.com.
  • The Patriots had a private workout with Northwestern State defensive tackle Deon Simon last week, a league source tells Christopher Price of WEEI.com.

Draft Updates: Wednesday

NCAA underclassmen have a little over two weeks to declare for the 2015 NFL draft, and several have done so already. Our list of 2015’s early entrants can be found right here, and we have some more names to add to that list today. Here’s the latest on college players forgoing their remaining NCAA years and heading to the NFL:

  • Simon Fraser University standout wide receiver Lemar Durant has declared for both the CFL and NFL Draft, according to TSN.
  • LSU cornerback Jalen Collins will enter the 2015 NFL draft, according to Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune. Collins received a favorable draft grade from the NFL Advisory Committee, which indicated that he should either project as a first- or second-round pick.
  • LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander will enter the 2015 draft, according to Scott Griffin of CBSSports.com and FOX 6 Birmingham (Twitter link). Alexander figures to be a mid-round pick in the spring.
  • Stanford cornerback Alex Carter has decided to enter the NFL draft, writes Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I talked it over with my family, and we decided it’s time,” Carter said following Stanford’s Foster Farms Bowl victory over Maryland. The corner will likely be a day-two pick.

Earlier updates:

  • Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson announced today on his Instagram that he’ll be entering the 2015 draft, according to the SEC Network (via Twitter). Robinson had a breakout junior year for the Bulldogs and is expected to be a mid-round pick in the spring, per WalterFootball.com.
  • Word is circulating that Houston wide receiver Deontay Greenberry has chosen an agent and is entering the draft, tweets Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net. While Pauline says he likes Greenberry’s game “a lot,” WalterFootball.com’s assessment of the young wideout suggested he should return to school for his senior year. Still, he looks like a potential second-day pick.
  • Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft has opted to enter the 2015 draft, passing up his final year of college eligibility, coach Kyle Flood announced on Tuesday, according to Keith Sargeant of NJ.com. “I just had a meeting with Tyler Kroft and his dad a little while ago and Tyler is going to declare for the NFL Draft and we couldn’t be more excited for him,” Flood said. “We thank him for all of his contributions and everything that he’s added to our program over the last four years. He has four credits left to graduate, which he should be able to get that done this spring, and we’re looking forward to him having a great career in the NFL going forward.” Kroft is projected as a potential third- or fourth-round pick by CBSSports.com and WalterFootball.com.
  • Shortly after his Penn State teammate Donovan Smith announced he was entering the draft, defensive end Deion Barnes confirmed that he would also forgo his final year of college eligibility, per a team release. “I talked with my family and we believe it’s best for me to move forward and forgo my fifth year,” Barnes said. The young defensive end has upside, but had an up-and-down college career and will have to perform well in workouts and at the combine to improve his draft stock.