Chicago Bears should avoid Eric Ebron in free agency

Chicago Bears (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears are in need of a tight end but should stay away from Eric Ebron.

It goes without saying that the Chicago Bears must improve production out of the tight end position. In 2019, the Bears employed a “tight-end by committee” approach. However, even collectively they were near the bottom of the league in terms of production.

Regardless of who is under center next year, they will hopefully have better options at the position. To improve the group, Ryan Pace could select on in the upcoming NFL Draft, and we have identified a number of players who would be really good fits. We previously profiled Washington’s Hunter Bryant, as well as Cincinnati’s star tight end, and an all-around good fit, Josiah Deguara.

Unfortunately, it is rare for rookie tight ends to have a significant impact in their rookie year, so if the goal is to increase production next season, they are going to want to go the route of free agency.

However, one player they should stay away from is Eric Ebron. At first glance, he might appear to be a good fit. After all, he played with Mitchell Trubisky in college and had a phenomenal 2018, in which he caught 66 passes for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Despite that, the Bears should steer clear. For starters, outside of 2018, his production has been decent, but not spectacular. While it will certainly depend on what Ebron is looking for, signing him to a long term deal or to a lucrative contract would be a substantial risk.

For starters, Ebron has historically had issues with drops. In 2018, his Pro Bowl season, he ranked third in the league with 9 passes dropped and a 60 percent catch percentage. Last season he had five drops and a 59.6 percent catch percentage. So if you bring Ebron on board, dropped passes are going to be a part of the deal.

Second, there is at least some concern over the fact that both the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts were comfortable letting him walk. The Lions outright released him without attempting to trade him or get anything in return and certainly didn’t consider extending him a longer-term offer.

Similarly, the Colts also let him walk without even considering making him an offer. What was even more of a red flag was how quickly general manager Chris Ballard made the decision public. At his end of year press conference, Ballard made it clear the Colts were moving on. Listen to how quickly and definitively he answers the question about bringing Ebron back:

The fact that Ballard was so certain — without even knowing what his options would be — should raise a red flag. Ballard foreclosed the option of bringing back a tight end, who was one year removed from a career year, just days after the season ended. Again, that’s a bit alarming.

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If the Bears want to extend Ebron a one-year “prove it” deal, and the price is reasonable, then the risk may be worth it. However, to put considerable eggs in that basket, would be a mistake. Moreover, it is entirely unclear whether Ebron would be amenable to that deal. I suspect he wouldn’t and is looking for a long-term deal.