The New England Patriots probably could have used tight end Tyler Eifert, but probably not to the tune of $7.75 million a year.

Eifert, the oft-injured former Cincinnati Bengals star, reportedly agreed Tuesday with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a two-year, $15.5 million contract, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. For reference, that’s the same contract the Patriots paid out to wide receiver Julian Edelman.

The Patriots likely couldn’t have stayed in the free agency market for Eifert with their current cap situation. According to Patriots salary cap expert Miguel Benzan, New England is working with just over $1.785 million in cap space. To clear up enough money to be in the hunt for Eifert, the Patriots would have had to trade franchise-tagged guard Joe Thuney or get rid of wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.

Adding a target like Eifert would have been enticing for the Patriots. But considering the cost and the injury risk, it’s likely for the best that the team passed.

With that said, the tight end market is starting to look a little barren for the Patriots. Eifert represented one of the last top veteran tight ends available in free agency. Austin Hooper, Jimmy Graham, Eric Ebron, Jason Witten and Marcedes Lewis are all off the board.

Who’s left? Guys like Luke Stocker and Geoff Swaim (it’s OK if you’ve never heard of them). The Patriots could also take a late-career dice roll on Delanie Walker.

There are options, but none of them look particularly enticing. After the retirement of Ben Watson, the Patriots are left with Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse on their tight end depth chart.

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