Free Agency Profile: Bengals TE Tyler Eifert

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 11: Tyler Eifert /

Tyler Eifert has proven himself an elite pass-catching threat with solid run-blocking efficiency, but his talents have been overshadowed lately by his struggles to stay healthy. Is the Pro Bowl tight end worth the risk for the Ravens?

The Ravens have quite a few tight ends. There’s 37-year old Ben Watson, who may retire after 14 NFL seasons. Watson led the team in receptions in 2017, with 61 catches. After that, the tight end group becomes more difficult to sort out. Maxx Williams has flashed at times, including during the 2017 season, but has otherwise been inconsistent. Vince Mayle has mainly been a special teams player, and is the more undersized tight end of the group at 6-foot-2, 247 pounds.

Crockett Gillmore has always been an intriguing player for the Ravens, but it has been reported that he has added 40 pounds to his frame and is transitioning to the offensive line. Perhaps the most useful of the group is Nick Boyle, who came on strong as a run-blocker in 2017.

There isn’t an elite playmaker amongst this group, and that is something the Ravens desperately need. Tyler Eifert could come in and immediately be the best tight end on the team. He has shown great athleticism and blocking ability going all the way back to his time at Notre Dame. I remember him being one of the top players I wanted the Ravens to draft in 2013. He was unsurprisingly taken off the board before the Ravens picked at 32nd overall

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Worth the risk

The Ravens now have a chance to bring him in for the 2018 season. The last time Eifert was healthy during the regular season, he posted 52 receptions for 615 yards, and thirteen receiving touchdowns. The only problem with that is, that season was in 2015. Eifert has struggled mightily to stay healthy in the two seasons since then, playing in just ten games since his Pro-Bowl season in 2015. He totaled just 33 receptions for 440 yards, and five touchdowns over the 2016 and 2017 seasons combined.

While signing Eifert certainly carries some risk, his recent struggles with health may prove to work in the Ravens’ favor. Eifert will likely come at a fairly cheap price. He is still just 27 years old, and has proven himself to be a Pro-Bowl level talent. Considering the severe lack of elite playmakers at the tight end position across the league, potentially signing one at a discounted rate would be immensely valuable.

Each of the Super Bowl teams had an elite tight end on their offense. Players like Rob Gronkowski and Zach Ertz change the way opposing defenses plan for their respective teams. Both have had some issues with injuries themselves, but there is no denying how much of a difference they make when they are out there on the field.

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Tyler Eifert’s talent runs parallel to these two Super Bowl tight ends. The Ravens could conceivably sign him to a modest contract with some playing-time incentives. A player of his caliber could make all the difference for the Ravens. If the Ravens can give Joe Flacco a stud #1 receiver and an elite tight end like Eifert, they could completely flip the script from last year’s “boring” and one-dimensional offense. Look out.