The Cincinnati Bengals got some bad news on Tuesday when it was announced that tight end Tyler Eifert had undergone ankle surgery. Eifert is expected to miss three months and may not end up being ready for the season season opener in Week 1. Not having Eifert for any amount of time would be a major loss for the Bengals who really need his presence on offense in the 2016 season.
Last season, Eifert was one of the best players on the Bengals’ offense. He had a breakout year in his third season, catching 52 passes for 615 yards and a whopping 13 touchdowns. He developed into an excellent red zone target and proved to be a very successful receiver. His athleticism allowed him to make numerous great plays and develop into one of Andy Dalton‘s favorite targets.
Coming into the 2016 season, Eifert was supposed to take on an even more important role for the Bengals. The team had lost Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency, who were the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers respectively for the team last season. Eifert was going to be one of the players to help make up for the lost production, so not having him at 100 percent would be a problem.
If Eifert were to miss any time, the Bengals would have to rely on second-year player Tyler Kroft to step into the starting lineup. Kroft had 11 catches as a rookie for 129 yards and a TD on the season, and he flashed some potential at times. He is nowhere near the player that Eifert is, but starting him a couple of games would not be the worst option.
Elsewhere on offense, new receivers Brandon LaFell and rookie Tyler Boyd will also have to pick up slack if Eifert is out. While LaFell has a proven track record as a No. 2 receiver, Boyd stands a better chance of contributing, as LaFell showed signs of decline last season. Besides, Boyd has a chance to develop into a solid possession receiver and be an excellent complement to A.J. Green.
No matter what happens for the Bengals, they need Eifert to be healthy. If they do not have him, the team will be without their second-best receiving option and Dalton’s performance would suffer as a result. Though the team has some talent on the depth chart, they need Eifert’s ankle to be fixed by Week 1. Otherwise, the Bengals could be slow out the gate which would be bad news for their prospects of winning the AFC North.