In our 2020 iteration of Finding Free Agents, we’ll attempt to answer three questions for each player: Why would the Seahawks be interested? What would their contract look like? What is the likelihood they reach free agency? Throughout the series, we’ll be focused on specific positions of need in Seattle: Wide receiver, tight end, offensive line and EDGE.
Tyler Eifert is one of the most notable “Oh, would could have been,” players in recent memory. After a promising rookie season, Eifert missed all but one game as a sophomore. In his third season, he stayed healthy and looked downright dominant, catching 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. Whether it was in the redzone or up the seam, Eifert was unguardable in the 2015 season. Since then, Eifert has played eight games, two games, four games and, in 2019, for the first time, 16 games. At 29, Eifert will hit free agency coming off his healthiest season yet.
Why would the Seahawks be interested?
Seattle needs to add a tight end this spring, whether it’s through free agency or the draft. Will Dissly, though promising, has started his career with two of the most devastating injuries a football player can have; Jacob Hollister is a nice receiving piece, but should be in a complimentary role; Luke Willson is a pending free agent and is little more than a hedge against injury at this point; and Ed Dickson seems like a likely cut candidate, as the team can save $3.25M by moving on.
Beyond the positional need, the Seahawks have missed the seam and redzone threat Jimmy Graham offered Russell Wilson during his heights in Seattle. When healthy, Eifert is a truly dominant player above-the-rim and still moves surprisingly well downfield. He could offer the Seahawks’ offense a type of threat they lack, while not standing in the way of Dissly, should the snake-bitten third-year tight end stay healthy in 2020. Eifert played 16 games in 2019, in part, because of his usage as a part-time player (45 percent of the offense’s snaps), and he could be the same in Seattle.
What would Eifert’s contract look like?
With Eifert’s injury history, it’s difficult to believe any team would guarantee any money for him before the regular season begins, even on a one-year deal. As far as a per-year salary, something in the $2M region would be well worth it. If Eifert was able to stay healthy and compliment the Seahawks’ existing pieces on offense, he would certainly provide production worthy of that price tag. If he once again suffered an injury setback, they would be protected financially.
Will Eifert reach free agency?
While Eifert will certainly reach unrestricted free agency, he may be inclined to stay in Cincinnati, should they offer a fair deal. This is a team that has stuck with him through various injuries, bringing him back on new deals twice while he was recovering from injuries. Speaking with the Bengals’ official site ahead of Week 17, he voiced interest in returning and his belief in Cincinnati’s new coaching staff and culture. If the Bengals offer Eifert a competitive deal, it seems likely he’ll return. If Seattle is interested, however, he could be tempted to move to a contender and play with Russell Wilson.