The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers should not have restructured Eric Ebron’s contract back in March, making it much less desirable to cut him.
Explanation: In his second season with the team, veteran tight end Eric Ebron has yet to offer much, with rookie Pat Freiermuth making headway both as a receiver and as a blocker each passing week. Had they found cap space elsewhere earlier and not restructured his contract, they would have released Ebron after they drafted Freiermuth.
Hindsight is 20/20, and there’s still a lot of season left to play, but Eric Ebron has simply not been good this season. He has just one catch, albeit for 19 yards, on seven targets so far, and at least one of those incompletions was a drop, if not more.
His reason for being here is to make big plays in the passing game. Not only is he not doing that, but they now have Pat Freiermuth to do that. Zach Gentry doesn’t feel like much of a drop-off at this point as a number two tight end.
The Steelers could have created cap space in March by restructuring the contracts of players like Stephon Tuitt and Chris Boswell, guys who are much more likely to still be here in the years in which they are pushing future money.
The heart of the topic is whether or not Ebron should even be on the roster. The answer is yes. Has he gotten off to a good start? Obviously not. But there are still 14 more games to play, and at some point, he is going to be a bigger part of the offense, and will get more accurate passes thrown his way, as they haven’t all been drops.
While it’s true that Freiermuth is off to a good start, what the Steelers should do is utilize the fact that they have two capable tight ends, rather than the alternative of going with one. Considering how banged up the wide receivers are already, the value of depth at the other skill positions seems pretty valuable.