JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Oft-injured tight end Tyler Eifert and the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to a two-year contract in free agency Tuesday night.
Eifert played in 16 games last year for the first time in his seven NFL seasons, all with Cincinnati. He caught 43 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns.
He has 185 receptions for 2,152 yards and 24 touchdowns. His best year came in 2015, when he had 52 catches for 615 yards and 13 scores. But he’s missed more games (34) than he’s played (30) since.
He’s one of the NFL’s elite tight ends when healthy. Before 2019, though, he was limited to 28 games over five seasons. He missed time with a stinger, a dislocated elbow, ankle injuries and twice needed back surgery. He also had a cyst removed him a knee.
Nonetheless, he could provide a big upgrade for Jacksonville. The Jaguars have tight ends James O’Shaughnessy, Josh Oliver and Charles Jones on the roster. O’Shaughnessy is coming off reconstructive knee surgery and Oliver, a third-round draft pick in 2019, played just three games as a rookie because of hamstring and back injuries.
Jacksonville signed Geoff Swaim in free agency a year ago and drafted Oliver a month later in hopes of revamping a position at which the Jaguars previously whiffed on Julius Thomas (2015-16) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (2018).
Eifert will be reunited with former Bengals offensive co-ordinator Jay Gruden, who was hired to the same job in Jacksonville after six seasons as Washington’s head coach. Eifert caught 39 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns in Gruden’s last season in Cincinnati, 2013.
Earlier Tuesday, the Jaguars and journeyman cornerback Rashaan Melvin agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $2.25 million.
Melvin had 68 tackles and 11 pass breakups in 13 games for Detroit last season. The 30-year-old Melvin also has spent time with Oakland, Indianapolis, New England, Baltimore and Tampa Bay during his seven-year NFL career.
He likely will serve as a backup in Jacksonville, which already landed cornerback Darqueze Dennard in free agency. Dennard signed a three-year deal worth $13.5 million. It includes $6 million guaranteed.
The Jaguars are looking to replace 2017 Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye, who was traded to Denver earlier this month for a fourth-round draft pick. They also traded three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey early last season and lost veteran backup Josh Robinson to retirement later in the year.
Melvin is the sixth defensive player to end up with Jacksonville during free agency, joining Dennard, linebacker Joe Schobert, defensive lineman Rodney Gunter, linebacker/pass-rusher Cassius Marsh and defensive tackle Al Woods.
Melvin, Marsh and Woods each landed low-cost, one-year deals with the Jaguars, who are planning to revamp their depleted roster with 12 picks in next month’s NFL draft.
Marsh’s deal includes $600,000 guaranteed, according to NFL Network. Woods will earn $2.75 million in 2020, with $1 million guaranteed.