Now that the regular season 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 have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season 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 reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: TE Eric Ebron
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: It has been reported that the veteran tight end is likely facing a procedure to deal with a knee injury suffered in Sunday’s game, which will likely land him on the Reserve/Injured List and possibly make it difficult for him to return to play this season.
This has been, I’m sure, a rather frustrating season for Eric Ebron, a veteran former first-round pick who has been used to being a prominent contributor year in and year out. Even last season, his first year with the Steelers, he still caught 56 passes for 558 yards and five touchdowns. He’s nowhere near that this year.
Ebron played more than 75 percent of the team’s snaps in 2020. He has played under 50 percent of the snaps this year; even factoring in the two games that he missed, his playing time has unquestionably been down. He’s averaged just 31 snaps per game, which would be about 522 snaps over a 17-game season—more than 200 snaps fewer than he played last season in 15 games.
With the emergences of rookie Pat Freiermuth and third-year Zach Gentry, Ebron has had to share the workload in a three-person tight end room, and in terms of tangible contributions between receptions and blocking, he’s often been on the short end, since Gentry is their top blocker and Freiermuth has become their reliable pass-catcher.
Now it’s unclear whether or not he’ll ever dress for the Steelers again. He suffered a knee injury while scoring a touchdown, fittingly, on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, and there have been indications that he is likely now facing surgery. It is unclear whether or not he has a realistic shot of coming back to play this year. He is not under contract beyond this season.
The Steelers signed Ebron to a two-year, $12 million contract last offseason. He was pretty much the player that he should have been expected to be last year, but he has seemingly gradually been phased out in favor of the other, younger, more versatile tight ends.