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: Eric Ebron has played his last snap as a Steeler.
Explanation: While it hasn’t been announced yet, the expectation is that tight end Eric Ebron has a knee injury that will require surgery. He should be placed on the Reserve/Injured List relatively soon. After that, he may or may not be able to return this season; he may or may not play if he does; and he may or may not be re-signed after this season.
Although he was technically on the field for the first snap on Sunday, Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry were announced with the starters. Ebron’s playing time has had pretty steady all season at around 30 snaps per game, but he has almost always had a role limited to two targets per game.
He was passed by Freiermuth a while ago already, but he’s also been passed by Zach Gentry as well—though he did outsnap the third-year tight end in the last game, for the first time in several weeks.
All of this conversation about roles assumes that Ebron’s injury will even allow him to return this season. We don’t currently know that. And even if it does, in the meantime, Kevin Rader will have the opportunity to establish himself. He has the potential to become a fixture on special teams, which would make it hard for Ebron to dress, especially if Gentry starts playing more of a role in the receiving game.
Ebron gets a lot of crap, but the bottom line is that he has been a good teammate in Pittsburgh who is well-liked in the locker room. And as he showed on Sunday, he can still make plays when given a chance. Even the tough third-down conversions through contact. He’ll drop some balls that frustrate you, but he is a playmaker.
If he’s healthy enough to play at some point later on in the season, he’s going to play. And we shouldn’t write off the possibility of him returning beyond this season. Let’s be honest, his market is going to be down. He signed for two years, $12 million in 2020. He hasn’t exactly revitalized his career in the interim. If he can be had for a few million or less, don’t be shocked if he gets re-signed.