BOSTON (CBS) — If the Patriots want to add a veteran tight end this offseason, they’re starting to run out of options. Tyler Eifert has reportedly signed a two-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
The oft-injured tight end has been rumored as a potential trade target for New England over the last few years, which really ramped up when Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement last offseason. Eifert was a free agent this offseason, though the $15.5 million he received from the Jaguars was likely a little too pricey for the cap-strapped Patriots. New England would have had to trade someone — potentially the recently franchise-tagged Joe Thuney — in order to fit Eifert in under the cap.
Adding Eifert would have given the New England offense a bit of a boost, especially considering all the unknown at the quarterback position. But it would have also carried a good amount of risk, given Eifert’s price and injury history. The 30-year-old played just 14 games total during a three-year stretch from 2016-2018, and has missed significant time in four of his seven NFL seasons.
But Eifert hit the market at the right time, coming off the healthiest season of his career. He played 16 games for the Bengals in 2019, catching 43 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns. His best season came in 2015, when Eifert scored 13 times in 15 games. He has 24 touchdowns in 59 career games.
With Ben Watson retiring, New England currently has Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo on their tight end depth chart. Eifert, Austin Hooper, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Marcedes Lewis have all found new homes this offseason, leaving Delanie Walker as one of the few veteran options available at the position.