Cleveland Browns: Reclamation projects to consider in free agency
Tyler Eifert, Tight End
The Browns have plenty of experience playing against Tyler Eifert, as he has been a pain in the Browns side since entering the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. He has shown the potential of being an elite tight end, including a dominant 2015 season. But throughout his entire career, Eifert has struggled to stay on the field.
In 2015, Eifert caught 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games. But since that season, he has played in only 14 games. In 2016 and 2017, he missed games due to a back injury that forced him to have surgery. Then during the Bengals Week 4 game in 2018, Eifert suffered a gruesome ankle injury that forced him to miss the rest of season.
During his five-year career, he has played in more than 10 games during a season only twice – his rookie season in 2013 and 2015.
With his injury history and inability to stay on the field, most teams will be concerned about his long-term durability, making him a candidate for a one-year contract this off-season.
The Browns do not have a huge need at tight end with David Njoku, Seth DeValve, and Darren Fells already on the roster. However, DeValve may spend a lot of time as the team’s H-back in 2019, moving around from tight end to playing fullback at times. He played in that role in a limited capacity last season, but played well doing so.
Cleveland was willing to carry three tight ends and a H-back last season. If DeValve plays as the H-back next season, that opens a roster spot for another tight end.
Playing as a second tight end might be exactly what Eifert needs for one season. He will still see targets, but will not be playing the amount of snaps that he would if he was the starting tight end thus decreasing the chance for another injury.
When Freddie Kitchens became the offensive coordinator, the offense played often in 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) and 13 personnel (one running back, three tight ends). After Kitchens took over play-calling duties, the Browns played 23 percent of their snaps in 12 personnel and 29 percent of their snaps in 13 personnel (most in the league during that span), according to SharpFootballStats.com.
With how often the Browns played with at least two tight ends, it would make sense to add a player like Eifert. If he can play similar to his 2015 self, the Browns will add a quality receiver. But if his history of injuries hold him back, they have depth at the position to cover him up.
The Browns adding Eifert as a second tight end on a one-year deal could pay huge dividends for the offense. If he can stay healthy for an entire season, the Browns would have a tight end that has the talent to be a top player at his position.