Just one year after the Jacksonville Jaguars signed former Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert in hopes of finally finding a solution at the position, it appears the Eifert era has ended.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Jaguars are expected to decline the club's 2021 team option on veteran tight end Tyler Eifert, making Eifert a free agent in March.
The move is hardly a surprise after Eifert had an incredibly down 2020 season. He was largely brought into Jacksonville due to his connection with former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, but he has zero ties to Urban Meyer and the new Jaguars coaching staff.
In 15 games with the Jaguars, Eifert recorded 36 receptions on 60 targets and 349 yards, which led the Jags tight end unit. He also caught two touchdowns. He converted 22 first downs and picked up 105 yards after the catch.
With this said, Eifert recorded career lows in yards per reception (9.7), yards per target (5.8), and catch percentage (60%). Jaguars quarterbacks had just a passer rating of 59.7 when targeting Eifert, and four of the team's 16 interceptions were passes thrown to Eifert.
“I thought we did well in the training camp and then things didn’t turn out the way they did in the games," former Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said in October about the team's struggles at tight end in 2020.
"Obviously, it wasn’t what we had planned. We wanted more production and obviously you can pretty much say that across the board, but I’m really hoping those guys start to come on because that would really help us.”
With the decline of Eifert's option, the Jaguars will save $5.25 million, according to Over The Cap. If the Jaguars picked up the option, Eifert would have been the current seventh-highest paid player on the roster with a cap hit of $6.375 million.
The Jaguars signed Eifert to a two-year, $9.5 million deal last offseason. Now they will have to find a way to replace him, whether through free agency with a player like Hunter Henry or Jonnu Smith or through the draft with Kyle Pitts, Brevin Jordan, Pat Freiermuth, or a number of other prospects.
Along with Eifert's eventual departure, fellow veteran tight end James O'Shaughnessy is also set to become a free agent in March. Eifert and O'Shaughnessy were the Jaguars' two most productive tight ends in 2020, creating a gaping hole at a position the Jaguars already badly needed to upgrade at.