The Falcons currently have Hayden Hurst as the only tight end under contract, but the market grew as news broke that Jacksonville declined Tyler Eifert‘s team option, making him a free agent in March — according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The #Jaguars are expected to decline the team option for TE Tyler Eifert’s contract, source said. He was to earn a little under $5M for 2021, but now he’ll be a free agent.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 22, 2021
Injuries have always hampered Eifert, but he appeared in 15 games with four starts after signing a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the Jaguars last offseason. He only recorded 36 receptions for 349 yards and two touchdowns in 2020, but Eifert was once viewed as one of the up-and-coming stars at the position when he was with the Bengals, making one Pro Bowl and hauling in 185 receptions for 2,152 yards and 24 touchdowns in his career in Cincinnati.
Terry Fontenot needs to acquire a couple of tight ends, particularly those that specialize in different facets of the game — receiving and blocking. Eifert can still make the athletic catch-radius plays he used to, and he proved it in Jacksonville by staying healthy — not recording a single drop in those 15 games.
Beautiful catch by Tyler Eifert one of the Only bright spots for Jaguars pic.twitter.com/SUqQqZCqa9
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) December 20, 2020
Arthur Smith’s offense loves multiple tight end sets. 38% of the Titans’ play calls came out of a formation with at least two tight ends — 33% with two, 5% with three. The Falcons could get their pseudo #3 but would use Eifert sparingly, deploying him in the red zone and 13 personnel. With that said, Eifert recorded career lows in yards per reception (9.7) and yards per target (5.8), so a team-friendly one-year deal is appropriate for a #3.
It would be somewhat ironic if Eifert returned to Atlanta, where he suffered a gruesome ankle injury, but I believe in Arthur Smith’s ability to get the most out of his tight ends. Smith revived Delanie Walker‘s career and developed Jonnu Smith into a pro-bowl caliber tight end. Not only were the Titans’ tight ends dangerous in the passing game, but they were also lights out in the run game. Eifert would ideally become serviceable in the run game and schemed open in jumbo packages through play-action — only if the price is right, a motto of the offseason.
Photographer: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire