As it stands now, the Cowboys tight ends have combined for nine receptions, 94 yards, and 0 touchdowns in their NFL careers. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that’s bad, very bad.
Part of the reason why the Cowboys tight ends don’t have a long list of stats is the fact that out of the four tight ends slated to compete for the 53-man roster only two have been active in a regular season game.
That tidbit was supposed to make you feel better, but it may have made you feel even worse about the tight end situation in Dallas.
We’ve seen Geoff Swaim be an average TE3 in the Cowboys offense behind Jason Witten and James Hanna. We keep hearing about how excited the Cowboys coaching staff is about second-year TE Blake Jarwin. We can be excited about fourth-round pick Dalton Schultz and his potential to be a breakout player. And we can all keep our hopes up that former Baylor basketball player, Rico Gathers, can turn into the next Antonio Gates. But the truth is, we don’t know.
We don’t know that any of the four guys listed above are ready to be on the field, play a high-percentage of snaps, or be a difference maker for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.
With the draft behind us, there’s only two ways to add talent to an NFL roster, free agency or the trade market. While there actually are a few decent tight end options available on the market, the Cowboys don’t seem interested in adding any of them. So maybe they’ll do what they did on draft night just a few months ago... trade.
It’s always fun to have a pipe dream about certain players in the league and the chances of acquiring them. In most cases, those players have zero chance of being traded, or teams getting what they think they should for said player. In this case, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, could be both a realistic option, and might be available at a reasonable price.
Eifert, a five-year player for the Cincinnati Bengals, was once looked at as one of the best young tight ends in the league. Eifert’s career has been littered with injuries, but when on the field and healthy, he has been a dominant force for the Bengals offense. Since entering the league in 2013, Eifert has missed 41 games and has only played in 39, but stay with me here. In the 27-year olds short career, Tyler has only seen action in at least eight games three times (2016, 2015, 2013). In those three years, he combined for 120 receptions, 1,454 yards, and 20 touchdowns. In 2015, Eifert was selected to his first-Pro Bowl after putting up 615 yards on 52 receptions, and 13 touchdowns.
So what makes Tyler Eifert available, you might ask?
First off, the Bengals are big fans of their other tight end, Tyler Kroft. If the Bengals see Kroft as their future starting tight end, they may want to go ahead and unload Eifert and get something for him instead of losing him to free agency for nothing. There have already been multiple reports about a Kroft contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals also have C.J. Uzomah, who they like using as blocker and red zone receiver.
Tyler Eifert was actually a free agent in 2018, but was re-signed by the Bengals soon after free agency began. A lot of people were surprised that the Bengals resigned Eifert after playing in just two games in 2017. With all the injury concerns, the Bengals still felt comfortable bringing Eifert back on a one-year prove-it deal.
He afforded the club an opportunity to match the Rams’ offer that could push the deal to about $8.5 million should he hit all of his performance incentives. He earned a $3 million signing bonus and a $500,000 workout bonus. He also can also earn up to $1 million if he plays every game by receiving a $62,500 per game if he’s on the active 46-man roster.
Eifert also can earn up to $3 million more in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown incentives.
This is a deal the Cowboys would be silly not to take on if given the opportunity. Worst case scenario, Eifert continues his trend of getting injured and misses a large chunk of the season, and the Cowboys owe him $3 million dollars in signing bonus money. Best case scenario, the Cowboys get a 27-year old TE who returns to Pro Bowl form, plays in a majority of the games in 2018, and Dallas should have no issue paying the Pro Bowl caliber player up to $8 million dollars.
The NFL is a risk vs reward league, and in this situation Tyler Eifert should be worth the risk. Tight end is one of the few big holes on the Cowboys roster, a player of Eifert’s caliber would completely change the narrative around the position and give Scott Linehan another receiving threat to work with. The Cowboys would be wise to offer the Bengals just enough to pry the former-Pro Bowler away from them. The things this offensive could do with a 6-foot-6, 255-lb tight end who is elite in the red zone would do wonders for the offense.