What kind of production will new Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron have in his first season with the team? Several months ago, Mike Clay of ESPN predicted that Ebron will catch 43 passes for 506 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2020. Quite honestly, that’s probably not a bad guess on his part and especially based only on how past free agent offensive weapons have performed for the Steelers in their first seasons since 2000 when Kevin Colbert became the team’s general manager.
Should Ebron indeed wind up catching more than 40 passes in 2020, he’ll essentially become the most prolific first-season free agent pass catcher the Steelers have ever had since Colbert arrived in 2000. Currently, that distinction belongs to two former Steelers running backs, DeAngelo Williams (2015) and Mewelde Moore (2008), both of whom caught 40 passes in their first seasons with the Steelers after being signed as unrestricted free agents.
That’s right, the most prolific offensive pass catching free agents that Colbert has signed to date are running backs and I found that quite surprising considering we’re talking about a long list of players that have come and gone via free agency in the last 20 seasons. A lot of those players are listed below along with their receiving stats from their first season in Pittsburgh after being signed as free agents.
The last several free agent tight ends signed by Colbert, Ladarius Green (2016), Leonard Pope (2012), Matt Spaeth (2013), and Jay Riemersma (2003), had a combined receiving stat line in their inaugural seasons in Pittsburgh of 32 receptions for 462 yards and 4 touchdowns. Green, who missed most of his one and only season with the Steelers because of injuries, was responsible for a good portion of those stats with 18 receptions for 304 yards and a touchdown in 2016.
Ebron’s least productive season to date came in his 2016 rookie year when he caught just 25 passes for 248 yards and one touchdown. Even though he missed five games last season with an ankle issue that needed to be fixed, he still managed 31 receptions for 375 yards and 3 touchdowns as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
40 receptions for Ebron in 2020 might just be his magic number with the Steelers and especially when it comes to him potentially being back in 2021 as he’s scheduled to earn $6 million in total next year. Even if Ebron doesn’t hit the 40-catch mark in 2020, if he can manage 6 or more touchdown receptions, that will help offset his lack of catch production.
Anything more than 40 catches by Ebron in 2020 will likely result in him going down as the most prolific pass catcher that Colbert ever signed in free agency during his long career in Pittsburgh. It will also likely result in remaining a member of the Steelers in 2021 as well.
Inaugural Season Receiving Stats For Steelers Offensive Skill Position Free Agent Additions Since 2000
|Antwaan Randle El||2010||31||16||0||39||22||253||11.50||0||15.8||56.4%||6.49|