Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert only played two games last year before his most recent back problem sent him to injured reserve, and he knows that every evaluation of his free agent future hinges on his health.
But he told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that “everything is fixed” now and that he never considered retiring after the latest in a series of injuries which have limited him to 39 of a possible 80 career games.
“No,” Eifert said. “No. If I didn’t think that I could get back to being a dominant player then yeah, I probably would. But there’s no question I can get back to where I’ve been.”
Where he’s been — occasionally — is among the top tight ends in the NFL in terms of production. The last time he played anything close to a full season in 2015 (13 games), he caught 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. But since then, he’s endured a series of problems including a concussion, stingers (plural), an elbow injury, a torn labrum, ankle surgery, a knee cleanup and the recent back issues which required multiple surgeries.
Other than that, he’s feeling great, and ready to hit the free agent market next week to see what it holds.
“I’m open for whatever,” Eifert said. “I’m comfortable in Cincinnati. It’s a place that I’ve called home for five years and I’ve really enjoyed my time. It’s somewhere where I would like to stay if that was possible. But all options are on the table for sure. It’s just, I guess, who wants me. I don’t know. I’ve had my injuries and all that, so I don’t know. I don’t know what to expect.”
The Bengals have suggested they’d like to have him back, but they also can’t put too much stock in him staying well, simply because he hasn’t.