NFL free agency kicks off in a little over five weeks on March 18th. I have decided to look weekly at a single free agent the Chicago Bears may look to bring in and analyze the fit. Last week was the first article and I took a look at Karl Joseph. If you haven’t checked that out yet, you can here. This week we switch sides of the ball and look at the offense and Eric Ebron.
The Bears have not had a quality tight end since Greg Olsen and the position has been a revolving door ever since. A name that has been in talks for a while now is Eric Ebron. We know the Bears desperately need to upgrade the tight end position but is Ebron the answer? I say no and here are three reasons why.
Eric Ebron is a very talented tight end and thus he will most likely be looking for good money during this free agency period. Let us not forget, however, that the Bears currently have the sixth highest-paid tight end in football already on the roster in Trey Burton.
Yes, Burton is still on the roster even though it seems as if we have not seen him since the middle of last season. Currently, the Bears have him locked up through 2022 and will owe him $8.5 million next season. It is unlikely the Bears cut ties with Burton this season as they will essentially be paying him to leave.
The Bears would pay him $7.5 million to cut him and would only save $1 million by doing so. The math just isn’t there on this unless they are truly fed up and just want to clean slate at the tight end position. The logical thing to do would be to cut him in 2021 if, in fact, that is their plans. He did have surgery and who knows what he will be like come training camp time. The bottom line is the Bears are currently 3rd in the league with money devoted to the tight end position. Signing another big-time contract to a player that is not a sure thing is far too risky.
Ebron Couldn’t Catch a Cold in a Chicago Winter
Eric Ebron was widely considered the top tight end available in 2014 when the Detroit Lions selected him 10th overall. His play in the NFL, however, has been pretty average if we’re being honest. His touchdown production is the biggest outlier. Aside from his 2018 campaign where he caught 13 touchdowns, he has never had more than 5 in a season. This is also playing with quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck. If he could not produce with the likes of those two guys, do you honestly think he will get it done with Trubisky?
Tight ends are also asked to block on occasion and that simply is not something Ebron excels at. In fact, it is something he struggles heavily with. We all have heard of the issues with drops when it comes to Ebron as well. He has had an 8% drop percentage the past three seasons. Follow any Colts fan on twitter and you will quickly learn of their frustration:
Ebron is no doubt a talented tight end, but he is not worth going out and signing in hopes of becoming the tight of the future for this Bears team. Trubisky has issues hitting guys wide open let alone depending on a guy who has problems with drops.
The Bears currently do not have a first-round pick this year. However, they do have two second-round picks, one of which can easily be used on a quality tight end. There are a few names that the Bears can look at in the draft starting with Brycen Hopkins, Jared Pinkey, Hunter Bryant, and Thaddeus Moss. Some of the best tight ends in the league were drafted in later rounds as well. George Kittle was drafted in the fifth round, Travis Kelce in the third, Zach Ertz in the second, and even Darren Waller who exploded this season, was taken in the sixth round.
The issue is that Ryan Pace has failed once already on a later round tight end when he took Adam Shaheen in the second round in 2017. George Kittle was taken in the fifth round of that same draft. Granted, we can say plenty of teams missed on Kittle, but it is more difficult to swallow when Pace reached on a smaller school prospect in Shaheen. There are a good handful of quality tight ends in this year’s draft that the Bears can look at and I believe that is the way to address this position rather than spending big money in free agency.
No Thanks, Ebron
Eric Ebron is a quality tight end in the league and is very talented. However, he is not elite and the Bears would be making a mistake by signing another tight end to a big-money contract. This position needs to be found in the draft and this year can be that year. They cannot afford to reach in free agency as they did a couple of years ago with Trey Burton. The difference is that they had the cap space to do so then. They do not have a lot of money to play with this free agency and Ebron is not someone they should look to throw it at.
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