Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: TE Eric Ebron
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Put simply, the Steelers got what they paid for from Eric Ebron in his first season with the team. Everything that we thought we knew about him coming to the Steelers, he showed to be the case—both the good and the bad—and living up to your billing, especially after a down year for him, is a plus in my book.
Eric Ebron was the Steelers’ ‘big splash’ in free agency in 2020, inked to a two-year, $12 million contract for his services over the two seasons to follow. Coming off of ankle surgery and a down year in 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts—after making the Pro Bowl with 13 touchdowns the year before—his market value was somewhat in flux.
While he is clearly not a full-package type of player, however, I certainly feel as though Pittsburgh got what it paid for out of Ebron, which is a receiving tight end with warts who can deliver the big play or the key play at any given moment.
He finished the season with 56 receptions, going for 558 receiving yards, with five touchdown receptions, which ties his second-best single-season mark of his career outside of the one 13-touchdown season of 2018. He also caught seven passes for 62 yards and another touchdown in the team’s postseason loss.
A lot of those catches came at big moments, converting on third down and things like that. But he also had more than half a dozen drops, many of them also coming at key moments. And to say that he is limited as a blocker would be generous. Let’s just say that he is still aspiring to be Jesse James in that department.
But if Matt Canada is smart, he will figure out ways to use Ebron in 2021 that better accentuates his skill set, and frankly, squeezes a bit more value out of him. $6 million per season is a fine price point for what they’re getting if you actually look at the tight end market, though. That’s not far from what James and Nick Boyle got as well.