Pittsburgh Steelers sign former Colts tight end Eric Ebron
The Steelers made a move today that many fans were hoping for by signing tight end, Eric Ebron. Here’s how he should fit into their offense in 2020.
Eric Ebron has been a name that Steelers fans have thrown around Twitter throughout the offseason. Vance McDonald was coming off a forgettable 2019 season, and Nick Vannett was an unrestricted free agent. Though Pittsburgh’s offense ranked 30th in the league a season ago, newly signed tight end Eric Ebron will look to change that.
According to Adam Schefter, Ebron just inked a two-year, $12 million deal with the Steelers:
Ebron was the 10th overall pick back in the 2014 NFL Draft. He is now entering his 3rd NFL team in his 7th season in the league. Though he never quite lived up to the lofty expectations many had for him as a true junior coming out of North Carolina, he has proven to be a reliable receiving tight end.
Ebron wasn’t overly involved during his time in Detriot, but his best years have come recently as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. In 2018, Ebron managed 66 catches for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns with Andrew Luck at the helm – earning Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career.
The Steelers recently restructured Vance McDonald’s contract, and the veteran tight end will remain with Pittsburgh in 2020 and possibly beyond. At $6 million per year, Ebron is actually a cheaper player than McDonald’s, but he will have a chance to carve out a role as a starter.
Adding Ebron to the team gives the Steelers the flexibility to run with two tight end sets much more often. Both tight ends are capable of playing in-line or flexing out to the slot. However, Ebron does most of his work as a receiver, and that’s where I expect Pittsburgh to use him in 2020.
In 2018, McDonald and Jesse James split snaps almost evenly (51 percent of snaps for McDonald as opposed to 50 percent for James). I expect the Steelers to take a similar approach with Ebron this season.
While Ebron may not share the same label as the elite tight ends in the league, he’s a solid stop-gap option at an affordable price. At the very least, it allows the Steelers to avoid taking a tight end high in a weak 2020 tight end class this year.
If you have hopes of Eric Ebron becoming the next Travis Kelce now that he’s in Pittsburgh, you might want to put that on hold. Ebron isn’t a ‘star’ tight end, but he should give the Steelers offense a boost in the final years of Ben Roethlisberger.