There’s no doubt that this free agent period has been an unorthodox one. And I don’t think it’s entirely a coincidence that two of the three outside free agents that the Pittsburgh Steelers brought in have some sort of ties to the organization or community. Stefen Wisniewski is a Pittsburgh native, grew up a fan, and was in on a free agent visit back in 2016. Derek Watt is the older brother of T.J. Watt. It’s easier to get information and have a mutual understanding under those conditions.
The one brought in kind of outside the box was Eric Ebron, and he admitted while talking to Missi Matthews that this free agency process was different, given the conditions mandated by the ongoing pandemic limiting travel and things like that.
“It was kind of like a faith thing”, he said. “It was kind of just like a belief, like, you tell what you can do on your side, and they tell how they believe in you on their side, and you kind of just accept it, believe it, have faith in it, and hopefully it works out for the best”.
“Honestly, you know, I’ve never seen the Steelers’ facility, never really met all their coaches face to face”, he went on. “You just kind of believe in them, see their body of work, they see your body of work, and you just agree to an agreement and become a Pittsburgh Steeler”.
Even though he has no prior connections to Pittsburgh—he is a New Jersey native who went to college in North Carolina, and then played in Detroit and Indianapolis in the NFL—he was very enthusiastic about joining the Steelers, even before the deal became official. Matthews asked him why he felt strongly about and believing in the Steelers.
“Everyone that I’ve talked to, everyone that I know that had some kind of tie or knows someone that had a tie to the Pittsburgh organization, there’s never been anything bad, they’ve always been treated well there, always come out with positive things”, he said.
“They say Mike Tomlin’s a great coach, the staff they put around him’s always good”, he continued. “The medical staff, they take care of their players. They understand what they’re going through and how to physically get them ready for Sundays. So it was just, I did my research, they do their research, and we basically just believe in one another and try to make something of it”.
Signed to a two-year, $12 million contract, Ebron will collect $6 million this year in the form of base salary and signing bonus. He can earn the other $6 million in the form of base salary and a roster bonus if he makes the team in 2021.