If there is one other position that has been gnawing at the Baltimore Ravens for the last couple of years now other than wide receiver, it's tight end. General Manager Ozzie Newsome, in his final offseason, is on the lookout for playmakers to help this offense and try to make sure the offense that showed up the last two months of 2017, stays on track.
After the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, it seemed they were going to be locked in at tight end for years to come with Dennis Pitta. Pitta and Joe Flacco formed great chemistry over the course of the previous two seasons, and it looked like it was going to get even better. As we know, Pitta suffered his first hip fracture in training camp of 2013, and the team has been on a carnival ride of tight ends ever since.
Pitta was in and out of the lineup from 2013 to 2016, with his two hip injuries before a third ended his Ravens career last year. Players such as Dallas Clark, Ed Dickson, Owen Daniels, Nick Boyle, Maxx Williams, Darren Waller, Crockett Gillmore, and Ben Watson have occupied the position with mixed results. The veterans Watson, Clark, and Daniels have done well. Boyle is a good number two tight end but he already has two suspensions on his resume. Waller was suspended all of last season, while Williams and Gillmore have battled injuries. Gillmore is also an unrestricted free agent along with Watson.
The Ravens need a tight end desperately, but the market as of now is very thin after Jimmy Graham and Trey Burton. One player the Ravens could look at is Tyler Eifert. Eifert is someone who might not be ideal for Baltimore considering his injury history. The Ravens literally came into OTA's with six tight ends who carried serious question marks last year, and Eifert would continue that mold.
Eifert though, does have an upside. He's still relatively young at 27 (turning 28 in September), has experience as a number one tight end, is a reliable target with good hands, and is a threat in the red zone. Those skills are something the Ravens don't have right now, and really, they haven't had a young tight end like Eifert since Pitta before his first hip fracture. As we know however, Eifert has a well documented injury history.
In 2014, Eifert suffered a dislocated elbow in Week 1 against the Ravens and was lost for the year. 2015 would be Eifert's coming out party playing 13 games, with 52 receptions, 615 yards, and 13 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he suffered an ankle injury in that years Pro Bowl which caused him to miss seven games of the 2016 season. Eifert would return and continue where he left off in 2015 by grabbing five touchdown passes before a back injury sidelined him for the season finale. Last year, he played two games before he had to get back surgery for the second consecutive year and had a cyst surgically removed from his knee.
Eifert is set to hit the market and will most likely come on a cheap one or two-year deal. It's the kind of "low risk, high reward" move Baltimore should do. The question, of course, is will he be worth it?
The Ravens are football's version of the New York Mets when it comes to injuries. A lot has to go right in the health department and the team has too many players like Eifert that they already have to deal with, Jimmy Smith for example. Back surgeries and a cyst removal last season are added reasons to stay away, but what he can do on the field could help a tight end unit that is in need of help.
Would you take a chance on Tyler Eifert?
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