Perhaps you’re sensing a theme in these free agent profiles. It’s not only that some of the potential target players carry serious question marks, but that Denver is desperate enough at certain positions they should look anyway.
The Broncos have been in search of a playmaker at the tight end position ever since Julius Thomas left in 2015. They have since attempted to fill that need with injury prone draft picks who have predictably struggled to stay on the field, but have also struggled to produce when finally on it.
Eifert shares one of those things in common with Denver’s tight end corps. He has battled ankle, elbow, shoulder, and back injuries since being drafted by the Bengals in 2013. However, when he has been on the field, his production and level of play has matched his billing as a Rob Gronkowski type difference-maker coming out of college.
Weight: 255 lbs
Experience: 7th year
Free Agent Tight End Tyler Eifert joined Late Hits and gave an update on his health after ending last year on IR— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) February 22, 2019
Why this makes sense
Eifert has still shown he can play the position at a high level when he’s on the field, and is only a few years removed from scoring 15 touchdowns in 18 games across the 2015 and beginning of the 2016 season. In his four games prior to his ankle injury in 2018, he was one of the top tight ends in yards per route run, albeit with a relatively small sample size.
Additionally, while he has struggled with injuries, aside from the nagging back issues, which he says have healed, the rest of his injuries have been more fluke breaks, like his recent ankle injury that put him out of commission in 2018.
The Sirius XM interview above with Tyler gives some good insight into his injury history and how he is recovering from that nasty broken ankle. Eifert says rehab has been going as planned and he is close to fully recovered. Additionally, a silver lining of the ankle is that he says it allowed his back extra time to fully heal. “That’s been everyone’s main concern is my back”, Eifter said, “and that’s feeling as good as it’s ever felt.”
15 touchdowns in Tyler Eifert's last 18 regular season games.— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) November 27, 2016
Why this doesn’t make sense
Similar to Jason Verrett, the price tag and market for Eifert gets a little tricky. After picking up his 5th year option, and then signing him to a one-year prove it deal, I don’t see Cincinnati taking another at Eifert, so I do think he ends up hitting the open market.
Obviously the injury history gives you pause, and makes you wonder how realistic a full 16 game season is for him. However, he is still only 28 years old, and could be fully recovered from the broken ankle by the start of OTAs.
At this point, I think Denver needs to turn over every rock at the tight end position as they have to find a solve for it. While I wouldn’t guarantee anything, or look at any long term contract, a low risk, low dollar one year contract could make sense for the Broncos and Eifert if they wanted to kick the tires on him, and give Joe Flacco a veteran target over the middle.
Looking in free agency shouldn’t preclude Denver from also drafting the position this year, as it is one of the deeper tight end classes in recent memory, but with a position as thin as this one, I think they have to explore every option. Eifert seems like a worthwhile one, to me.