Shining the Spotlight on C.J. Uzomah

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 11: Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) runs onto the field before the game against the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals on November 25th 2018, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

When C.J. Uzomah started with the Cincinnati Bengals, he didn’t necessarily come onto the team with fanfare. Instead, the Auburn product joined the organization during the third day of the NFL draft. During his senior year with the Tigers, he only had 29 receptions, 435 yards, and seven touchdowns.

But Uzomah steadily made his mark with the Bengals. His rookie season saw him make one successful completion from four targets. Three years later, though, he had his chance to truly shine.

The Growth of C.J. Uzomah

That left Uzomah to have a breakout year in 2018. He made 43 receptions over the season, covering 439 yards and scoring three touchdowns for the squad. Plus, he did a stellar job of blocking for running back Joe Mixon, which allowed Mixon to have a breakout campaign of his own. And Uzomah did it all with a shoulder injury for much of the season, proving how hard he worked for the Bengals in 2018.

Free Agency

At the end of the season, though, Uzomah and the Bengals organization had a decision to make. The tight end became a free agent for the 2019 to 2020 season, opening him up to opportunities and contracts from other teams. Plus, the Bengals could have brought back Tyler Eifert or Tyler Kroft, leaving Uzomah to play backup for the former starters whose injuries allowed him to take over.

However, in March of 2019, news broke that the Bengals had offered Uzomah a great contract for him to stick with the team for three more years. Over that period, he will receive $18 million and continue to play for the Cincinnati-based squad.

On top of that, Uzomah will have a chance to continue starting for the Bengals, since the team has also let go of former starter Kroft, who has since signed with the Buffalo Bills. They did keep Eifert on the roster and some argue he’s the better tight end on the team right now. But because he tends to be injury-prone, there’s a good chance that Uzomah will get his fair share of targets on the field this season, too.

The Tight Ends

To that end, the Bengals have also drafted Drew Sample, who plays as a blocking tight end. This move will allow both Uzomah and Eifert to play as receiving tight-ends for much of their time on the field. As such, all three of these men are considered to be shoe-ins for the Bengals 2019 to 2020 roster.

In the end, the Bengals will likely call up four tight ends in total, filling out their 53-man roster for the upcoming season. They have a handful of guys battling for the last spot. Mason Schreck and Cethan Carter have both played for the Bengals, but they’ve also been plagued by injuries, too. Schreck has only suited up six times for the team, as he suffered an injury in his 2017 rookie season. Carter, meanwhile, has logged 17 games before an injury took him out of the running for all of the 2018 season.

Still, one thing seems to be for sure — Uzomah will be a part of this year’s starting line-up. And, better yet, it seems he’s just starting to hit his stride as a valuable member of the Bengals squad.

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