With the retirement of Rob Gronkowski still fresh on Tampa Bay Buccaneers' fans' minds, the search for a possible replacement to help bolster the tight end room is in full effect.
There are few viable veteran tight end options still free agents like Kyle Rudolf, Jared Cook, and Jimmy Graham. However, it is the youngest of the available free agents that looks to be the best option in trying to replace the future Hall of Famer.
Eric Ebron has spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers after spending time with the Indianapolis Colts and being drafted 10th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. His last season with Pittsburgh was disappointing to say the least as he only recorded one touchdown on the season. However, the Steelers had a promising up-and-coming tight end Pat Friermuth who Ebron helped develop.
Ebron has amassed 351 receptions, 3,837 yards, and 33 touchdowns across his eight year NFL career. Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report named a few teams that have interest in the veteran tight end, however, he did not mention the mention the Bucs. Even though Wharton did not mention them the Buccaneers could use all of what Wharton had to say about Ebron.
“The 6-foot-4, 253-pounder uses his length and thick frame to box out defenders instead of relying on his once-impressive speed,” Wharton wrote. “He’s posted a catch rate of at least 60% in all but one season over the last seven years. It’s easy to see why a playoff contender could use him as a red-zone target.”
“But Ebron could be more than that if healthy,” Wharton added. “He’s maintained a 10.9-yard-per-catch average during his career. Put him in an offense with several playmakers ahead of him in the pecking order, and he’ll be an excellent value.”
Ebron is a big body tight end option that creates problems in the end zone. Gronk was known during his career for being the best at scoring in the red zone and adding Ebron alongside Cam Brate will present Brady with another scoring option. The last sentence from Wharton about Ebron being behind the pecking order definitely fits what the Buccaneers possess. With the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Leonard Fournette ahead of him for touches, you can definitely see where Ebron will fit in well with this team.
The question that will need to be answered is if Ebron can fill the blocking role that Gronk was able to master while also being one of the premier pass catching tight ends in the league. Ebron will also be able to serve as a veteran presence, much like he did in Pittsburgh, to help develop newly drafted tight ends Ko Kieft and Cade Otton.
The move makes sense from all sides, the next question is will it come to fruition?