The Pittsburgh Steelers began the NFL offseason needing to make an upgrade at the tight end position. They will sign Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron to address this spot, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
As Schefter reported, the deal Ebron agreed to with the Steelers is a two-year, $12 million contract. It’s a fair value for Ebron despite him coming off an underwhelming 2019 season.
The Steelers did decide to keep Vance McDonald and adding Ebron, which means they have found their top two tight end targets. They will be able to use selections in the 2020 NFL Draft to address other positions or simply go with the best player available with more comfort.
Former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck thrived at frequently connecting with his tight ends and going from him to Jacoby Brissett certainly didn’t help Ebron. In 2018, he racked up 66 receptions for 750 yards and an impressive 13 touchdown catches.
It should only help Ebron to be able to play with a more dynamic quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger with the Steelers. It’s worth noting, Roethlisberger says he is throwing without pain now and that is certainly an encouraging sign.
“I have no doubts I’m going to be able to come back and play well — none,” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I have complete confidence in that. I’m throwing without pain for the first time in years. Some games, I would have a little pain. Some games, I would have a lot of pain. But in the New England game and the Seattle game [last season], it got to be too much. To be able to throw without pain now? That feels nice. That’s a nice feeling. I know I’m not getting any younger, but I feel younger because I don’t have any pain.”
Much has been made about Ebron’s tendency to drop passes throughout his career. However, he did have a 60.0% catch rate during his lone Pro Bowl campaign in 2018. That went down to 59.6% in 2019 and that minuscule of a decline isn’t all that noteworthy.
It would obviously be advantageous for the Steelers to see Ebron produce a catch rate much closer to the 71.8% mark he reached in 2016 with the Detroit Lions. Managing to accomplish this would help revitalize his prior Pro Bowl form.