Eifert recently indicated that he still isn't allowed to squat or perform exercises that "load the spine," Jim Owczarski of Cincinnati.com reports. "It's important to stay healthy whether you've been hurt or not, but I think I'm obviously in a unique situation with the amount of games I've missed," the tight end said. "I'm doing everything I can as far as maintenance goes and all that stuff so I can stay on the field -- just doing what I can."
Eifert, who originally injured his back last September, received medical clearance from the esteemed Dr. Robert Watkins in February and has since resumed running and performing select weightlifting exercises. However, the Bengals are likely going the extra mile to minimize the workload they put on their standout tight end with the start of the regular season still over four months away. It isn't clear how long Eifert may be operating under restrictions, but it wouldn't be a complete surprise if he's still being babied when training camp opens in late July. Eifert is set to play the 2018 campaign on a one-year, $5.5 million deal that has a maximum value of $8.5 million with incentives.
Eifert can earn $8.5 million in 2018 if he catches 65 or more passes for 650 or more yards and eight or more touchdowns, Jim Owczarski of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Looking to return from the third back surgery of his football career, Eifert re-signed with the Bengals on a one-year, $5.5 million contract that also includes $3 million in incentives, which kick in for $250,000 apiece at 50 catches, 500 yards and five touchdowns. He'd earn another $250,000 for every five receptions, 50 yards or one touchdown thereafter, with the incentives maxing out at 65-650-8. It isn't entirely out of the question that Eifert hits the max value, considering he caught 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games in 2015. Injuries limited him to 10 appearances the past two seasons, but he at least remained efficient with 8.5 yards per target and five touchdowns on 33 catches in that stretch. The 27-year-old owns career marks of 12.1 yards per reception and 8.3 per target, with a 68.2-percent catch rate and touchdowns on 10.8 percent of his targets. Eifert was cleared for football activities in February, likely setting him up for participation in the Bengals' offseason program.
A back injury that Eifert now says he is past limited the tight end to just two games and four catches for 46 yards in 2017. When healthy, Eifert has a nose for the end zone, but his five-year career has been marked by a total of 41 regular-season missed games due to various injuries. For the time being, Eifert says "everything is fixed" and if that's the way things stay for any length of time, the 2013 first-rounder could provide a good return on investment in both real and fantasy terms this coming season.
Eifert (back) confirmed he is back to full health as he prepares to hit the open market in free agency, Jim Owczarski of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Eifert was unable to prove himself in the lasst year of his rookie contract, missing the final 14 games with a disc injury that required surgery. He was cleared in late February by Dr. Robert Watkins, and thus figures to be ready for offseason workouts wherever he ends up signing. Despite playing just 41 of a possible 80 games to this point, the 27-year-old could emerge as the top tight end on the market, having scored 20 touchdowns in 39 career appearances while producing 8.3 yards per target. The Bengals presumably won't use the franchise tag but may still try to re-sign Eifert.
Eifert, who missed 14 games with the Bengals last season after undergoing micro-disc surgery in September, was cleared last week by Dr. Robert Watkins to participate in offseason workouts and resume his career in 2018, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
When the new league year opens March 14, Eifert will hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career. After being limited to just 10 games over the last two seasons due to injuries, the zeroes on his next deal are likely to be less than it once seemed after he turned 52 receptions into 615 yards and 13 touchdowns in his third NFL campaign in 2015. Even so, tight ends with his offensive potential aren't easy to find and Eifert is still just 27 years old. There is certain to be at least modest interest in Eifert this offseason, with a reunion with the Bengals possibly even on the table.
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