What could be better than listening to national sports commentators pinpoint exactly what each of the 32 teams in the NFL should do with their resources, given the little amount that they actually understand of the nuances of each team’s situation? It’s a lovely exercise in futility, alternately frustrating and amusing.
We have already heard from a number of outlets who know what the Pittsburgh Steelers should do with their non-existent salary cap space, the most questionable one that I have seen so far may be that which recently emanated from the one and only Jason La Canfora, who for CBS Sports argues that the team should sign free agent tight end Eric Ebron.
Sign Eric Ebron. Tight end has bene an issue forever and keeping Vance McDonald is way too steep a price. Hunter Henry will get tagged and Austin Hooper will get way overpaid on the open market. The Steelers don’t have cap space and renting Ebron for a year could provide value in the red zone.
A former first-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 2014, the team did not pick up his fifth-year option after catching 186 passes for 2070 yards and 11 touchdowns in his four seasons there. Ebron missed eight games during his first three seasons.
After signing with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency in 2018, he had a career year playing with Andrew Luck, catching 66 passes for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns, all career-highs, some substantially so. With Jacoby Brissett last season, and missing a career-high five games, he caught only 31 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns.
For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus projects Ebron to earn a contract worth $7.5 million per season. Releasing Vance McDonald would not save that much in cap space, though of course the team could work out a lower year-one cap hit on a multiple-year deal.
Committing too many years to a tight end who has missed 13 games over six seasons and who only has one year of plus production, however, is not exactly something the Steelers are likely to be overly interested in.
That would be especially so given their history with McDonald himself, and with Ladarius Green before him. The tight end position in general is one that can be susceptible to repetitive injuries for some notable players like Tyler Eifert. Those who actually block and stay healthy are becoming more rare.