The Detroit Lions made a bold move this offseason when they decided to release tight end Eric Ebron before the start of free agency. Ebron was slated to be with the team for another season, but the Lions pulled the plug before they could even consider what Ebron might look like on their new look squad led by Matt Patricia. It created what many felt was a gaping hole at tight end, and though the Lions added Luke Willson to the mix, they haven’t exactly done much to prove they can close that hole in the meantime. Still, removing Ebron from Detroit wasn’t the wrong move despite how bad it might look currently.
So far this season, Ebron has impressed, putting up six touchdowns thus far on the young season with the Indianapolis Colts. In Detroit, he wasn’t nearly effective in the first five seasons of his entire career, a fact which was pointed out by NFL Research on Twitter recently.
“Eric Ebron has 6 receiving TD in 6 games in his first season with the Colts, a single-season career high for Ebron. In his 4 seasons with the Lions, Ebron scored 11 receiving TD in 56 games,” the site tweeted. That fact has led plenty to wonder what, exactly, the Lions got wrong as it relates to Ebron’s place on the team and if they made a huge error in not bringing him back for 2018, all things considered.
PFT’s Michael David Smith also hinted at these questions with a recent take.
“The narrative around Ebron seems to be shifting from, “What the hell were the Lions thinking when they drafted him?” to “Why couldn’t the Lions get out of him what the Colts can?,” he tweeted.
Indeed, Ebron has been good so far this season, but there’s no need for such revisionist history from Lions fans or the general media alike. The fact that the tight end has played well in a new city isn’t all that surprising. In Detroit, Ebron was criticized for the catches he didn’t make as well as his attitude. It seemed that things had run their course in the city, as whenever Ebron would have a good game, the story would become consistency. Why couldn’t he deliver those results full-time? After a bad game, Ebron would seem downright dejected.
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As a result, it would have been a poison pill for Detroit to bring him back. Any mistake could have been magnified and any success under-appreciated. Both sides should be thankful for the brand new start. The NFL is littered with reclamation stories, and one man’s trash routinely becomes another man’s treasure in the league thanks simply to a fresh start and scenery change.
While it’s true that the Lions tight end spot has become a black hole for the offense this season and somewhat of a major disappointment, what is also true is the fact that the position is likely due for another makeover in 2019. Second year man Michael Roberts is the only player slated to be on the roster long term at the position under contract, and it’s likely the Lions could look to add another player in the draft, via trade or even free agency to continue the makeover after re-assessing things at season’s end.
It might seem counterproductive now, but the Lions were right to cut their losses with Ebron all along. Their entire passing attack hasn’t exactly suffered, and they were never going to be able to pay him what he wanted in the future, nor did they want to after a checkered career in the Motor City. A split was in the best interest of both parties, and it’s working out for Ebron thus far.
What Detroit fans need to do now is continue to take the high road, wish Ebron well and move on. He’s never shied away from the petty, but now, he might realize that a split was always in the best interest of both parties. It’s time to stop pretending something so obvious was a mistake.