The Detroit Lions Podcast Writing Staff Takes A Look At The Release Of Eric Ebron, Knowing What We Know Now.
While I do think his best days are ahead of him, I do understand why Lions general manager Bob Quinn cut tight end Eric Ebron. It was known he did not enjoy the way Lions fans handled his slow progression through his first four season. That become clear by his posting to social media that his departure from Detroit was inevitable. I understand why they would want to move on from him now and try to use that money to either fill holes this season or invest in potential longer term players. Especially considering the arrival of new head coach Matt Patricia.Ultimately, I am unsure amount of money he was going to cost may not be worth the actual output he will have in 2018.
With the money saved by cutting him (estimated $8.5m), they have gone out and gotten a couple free agents, including tight end Luke Wilson and nose tackle Sylvester Williams.
I am almost certainly in the minority on this one, especially given the comments from Eric Ebron that have been understandably perceived as anti-Lions. Most people who follow me know that I have always been an Eric Ebron supporter, and I am still a big believer in his talent and potential in the NFL.
The release of Eric Ebron would have been a little easier for me to understand if the LIons had “fixed a position” with the extra salary. They cerainly improved in some areas. They certainly added depth in some areas. The problem for me, beyond the loss of what I consider to be a very talented player, is that the Lions created a new need without filling another.
My theory on free agency is that you should try and “fix” as many positions as possible. Not every position needs splash signings or elite talent, but you should try and have as few needs as possible when entering the draft.
While I believe “best player available” to be mostly idealistic thinking, I do think that, by minimizing the number of glaring needs and being “ok” with every position on your roster, you can certainly minimize the amount that you have to reach in the draft.
By releasing Eric Ebron, the Lions created a gaping hole at the tight end position that almost certainly needs to be addressed. Given the Lions’ already substantial needs, the front office is suddenly in a tough position going into the 2018 NFL Draft.
Bob Quinn made a brilliant move that I have been calling for since the season ended by getting Eric Ebron’s contract off of the books last month. After picking up Ebron’s fifth year rookie contract option last summer, the tight end was due $8 million next season. This is a considerable amount, especially considering the limited amount of cap space the Lions had to work with heading into free agency.
Cutting Ebron allowed the Lions to use that $8 million to sign several players they otherwise might not have been able to, including Deshawn Shead, LeGarrette Blount, Christian Jones, Devon Kennard, Kenny Wiggins, Luke Willson, Sylvester Williams and Levine Toilolo. Taking multiple depth players over Eric Ebron is a no brainer decision in my opinion.
Besides this, Ebron was simply nowhere near worth the $8 million he was due. Last season, he averaged just 35 yards per game. Many Lions fans thought he flashed potential towards the end of the year, going over 80 yards against the Bengals and Buccaneers. However, Ebron’s strong finish to the season is a myth: over the final nine games of the season, he was held below 40 yards six times. Eric Ebron was not a horrible player for the Lions, but he simply was not worth the money he was going to be making.
Letting tight end Eric Ebron go was surprisingly the right choice for the Lions and their future at the tight end position. The writing was on the wall that Ebron wouldn’t be in the team’s future plans past 2018, with the fan base reacting to Ebron over the years with his drops and him not performing like a top 10 NFL draft pick (not that it was his fault where he was drafted), it was best to move on. Ebron could catch the game winning pass in Super Bowl 53 and fans would still hate him.
Ebron needed to get out of this city and away from this fan base. He will excel in the NFL, and while the Colts isn’t the perfect place for him to go, he should still be a good tight end. He finished 2017 strong after the trade rumors came out and he looked like a solid piece to the offense.
Not re-signing Darren Fells was a rough move, but the team wasn’t going to pay him what the Cleveland Browns did, and it was a good thing that they didn’t. Second year tight end Michael Roberts will have to step up and see if he can contribute in 2018.
The addition of Luke Willson was a good one, and while he didn’t get that much exposure in Seattle, he isn’t a grade A addition, and he does have some hands issues, like Ebron, so that will be something to watch. If Detroit wants to build towards the future, drafting a tight end will be a good option. In the third through fifth round is where Detroit should target a tight end and some names I would like to see are Mike Gesicki from Penn State and Troy Fumagalli from Wisconsin as they could be solid next level tight ends.
Click HERE For A Comprehensive Database of the 2018 Free Agents