CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor seemed surprised to see Tyler Boyd when he showed up on the practice fields Tuesday for the first time this offseason, but it turns out he just forgot that was the day Boyd had told him he would be back.
Boyd said he wasn’t holding out of participating in the offseason workout program up to this point for any reason except to spend time with his daughter and family. Eventually, he felt like he was missing out being away from his team, though, and so Tuesday marked his return.
Organized Team Activities take place next week, followed by a mandatory minicamp the following week, but everything up to that point is voluntary.
“It felt great,” Boyd said. “I’ve been working on conditioning, I feel good out there. I usually come in feeling like maybe I ain’t ready, but I was more than ready in that respect. But it’s still Day 1. I got my legs under me and just happy to be around the guys again.”
Boyd’s absence drew some speculation that maybe he was unhappy with his contract situationent ering the final year of his deal. That was only fueled further when the Bengals drafted Charlie Jones, a player that was considered to be a strong prospect as a slot receiver, where Boyd plays.
Jones is not expected to take Boyd’s spot this season, but could be a future replacement if the Bengals can’t reach an agreement for an extension while also juggling contract negotiations with Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins this offseason and likely Ja’Marr Chase next year.
Boyd, a 2016 second-round draft pick, said he wasn’t worried about that possibility.
“This is my home for now,” Boyd said. “I’m not going to worry about the unexpected. I’m here to finish this year out and whatever happens happens. But I know we have a very, very high chance of making the Super Bowl and even winning, and this is where I want to be, whether I come up with a new deal or not. I got to just go out there and I’m gonna be me. I am very appreciative of them still wanting me to be around and knowing that they don’t want to trade me and things like that. But at the end of the day, I just gotta help guys get better. I mean, we ain’t gonna be playing ball forever. I might not be here forever. But I mean I’ve always loved this franchise and I’m always going to be a Bengal.”
Boyd said there have “never been talks” about his exit or anything like that, and he’s never felt neglected by the organization — even as they drafted players like Higgins and Chase, who have taken away some of his targets the past three years. He said his teammates, coaches and front office always have made him feel loved.
The eighth-year veteran also hasn’t asked his agent to get into contract discussions yet because he knows the Bengals have other contracts to settle.
“I didn’t let my agent or anybody know that I was seeking anything because I know we’ve got to get deals done with important players like Joe and Tee,” Boyd said. “I’m well with money. I’m good. I just want to see the guys that deserve it get paid. What happens in the future, hopefully it works out for me. At the end of the day, I’ve still got this last year and I’m willing to come back and play and get this championship.”
Boyd said the Bengals front office did check in to make sure he would be here for the final year of his contract, and he appreciates how the staff has treated him. He feels grateful to have been able to stay in Cincinnati on multiple contracts and said the idea of leaving in free agency isn’t appealing, though he’s thought about that possibility.
“I’ve thought about it, obviously,” he said. “I know I’m going to be a free agent next year and at the end of the day it will come down to money. I have a great strong feeling that they will come with an offer to where it’s still going to be tough for me to leave ‘cause this is my family. I spent my whole career here, I done built relationships with every guy in this locker room and having to just go be a part of another team, not to say that it wouldn’t be great, but I got to relearn everything, the system, I got to meet all new guys and kind of start from scratch. That’s not something I’m afraid of or anything, but the comfort-bility (sic) level kind of changes when you bounce around.”
In the meantime, Boyd is set on trying to win a championship with a team he believes can do so, and he’s perhaps a little extra motivated after not being able to finish the AFC Championship game last year, having to watch from the sideline as Cincinnati lost by three points to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Boyd suffered a deep bruise in his thigh making his second catch, a 24-yard grab on a second-and-10 from the Kansas City 39-yard line in the second quarter. He said he tried numbing cream and Ibuprofen but nothing helped him feel like he could even play at 80 percent his normal speed, so he didn’t want to slow down his team. In the end, his absence was noticable.
“That bothered me the most because I hate to let my team down,” Boyd said. “Still to this day, I feel like if I would have played the game, I was the key factor. We would’ve won the game. The second quarter, I had two huge catches for 50 yards. I was getting more of the one-on-one matches, and I knew I had the better matchup to win. Me going down, it kind of eliminated the things we was trying to do. But at the end of the day, we trust every guy, and we just barely fell short. I think the refs and them sinked the game a little bit, but that’s out of our control. At the end of the day, we’ve got to go out there and play and they ref. But I feel if I was ready and healthy, we would’ve secured that.”