Two Tight End Set Provides Security for Returning Ben Roethlisberger
PITTSBURGH -- Head coach Mike Tomlin has been watching Eric Ebron since college. A strategy Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert have used for years, free agency seems to be place the two eye out players they've known since entering the NFL.
Without a losing season, it's not easy to find a player in the top 15 of the NFL Draft. Tomlin and Colbert have only moved into the top 10 once together, drafting Devin Bush in 2019. Besides that, never.
So, finding Ebron in free agency was the only way the 2014 10th overall pick.
Waiting for their opportunity to spend money in the open market, the Steelers made minuet signings to fill needs throughout their team. Then, they added a splash with the two-year, $12 million deal of Ebron.
They didn't use it as a reason to move on from Vance McDonald, though. The Steelers restructured McDonald's contract for the 2020 season in order to free up more cap space for signings like Ebron's.
The two veteran tight ends will work together in Pittsburgh, leaving Ben Roethlisberger with two very reliable players at his favorite positional target.
"Mike Tomlin told me that he's going to put me in the best possible situation to succeed at my abilities," Ebron said. "That's all I needed to hear is that he believes in my abilities and the things that I can do and know that I can do them better than most people."
Ebron can play a pass-catching tight end role better than almost anyone in the NFL. The 26-year-old is only one season out of a career-high in catches, yards and touchdowns in 2018, with 66 receptions for 750 yards and 13 scores.
"If (Tomlin) is going to put me in those situations to succeed and fulfill that, there's no other thing you want as a player who is coming into the prime of my career. I'm only 26-years-old, and there's no better fit than being in a situation where they're going to use you to the best of your abilities."
Ebron's abilities are certainly brighter than McDonald's. Younger, quicker, and has seen more success. In Pittsburgh, it won't be a question to who's going to get more reps, but now; how many reps to do they get together?
The Steelers have the ability to play two-tight ends at almost all times. Whether they're spreading McDoanld out into the slot or using a bulky offensive line, there's option to utilize both of their receiving big men at the same time.
It's not about upgrading at tight end. Yes, that needed to happen for the future, but truthfully, a two-year contract is still only a tryout. Instead, if gives two veterans with plenty of life left the ability to boost an offense for a returning quarterback.
Somewhat of a security risk for Big Ben's elbow.
The offense is now bulked up with three starting wide receivers, two starting tight ends and by the end of the month, possibly two feature backs in James Conner and a rookie.
Until the offense line proves to be aging too much, they're still considered one of the best in the league. The loss of Ramon Foster hurts, but not enough following the signing of Stefen Wisniewski.
Everything this team has done so far has pointed towards helping Roethlisberger. He's feeling good, set to return whenever the NFL begins their offseason workouts and now has a new 'best friend' in Ebron.
Things are moving in an upward direction for the Steelers offense. A clear weak spot in 2019, now hoping to be a tipping point to get them back into the postseason race.
What role do you think Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald play in 2020? Let us know in the comments section.