Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that the Bengals and TE Tyler Eifert were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension before the team’s soft deadline they impose to get extensions done.
This means that Eifert is now in a position to be an unrestricted free agent next offseason and could be among the best available players.
Multiple sources tell Owczarski that the Bengals would not be opposed to using their franchise tag on Eifert should be put together a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2017. The franchise tag is projected to run teams around $10 million next year, which would make Eifert the highest paid tight end in the league based on single-year annual value.
Owczarski adds that it’s also a possibility Cincinnati could use their transition tag on Eifert, which would cost them close to $7.7 million next year and give them right of first refusal on any offer sheet he signed with another team.
Eifert, 27, is a first-round pick of the Bengals back in 2013. He played out the final year of his four-year, $8.256 million contract and is playing out the 2017 season under the fifth-year option.
Eifert will make $4.782 million in 2017 before becoming an unrestricted free agent next year.
In 2016, Eifert appeared in eight games for the Bengals and caught 29 passes for 194 yards receiving and five touchdowns.