Eric Ebron’s career at this point has been somewhat of an enigma. Tenth overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, Ebron has amassed solid but unspectacular numbers during his first four NFL seasons despite playing with Matthew Stafford, one of the league’s most prolific quarterbacks in the past decade. And after having had a revolutionary season in 2018 – earning Pro Bowl honors after scoring 13 career touchdowns – his numbers declined dramatically last season, making 31 passes and three touchdowns. Hebron will now have a fresh start in Pittsburgh after signing a two-year $ 12 million deal with the Steelers shortly after the league’s new year begins.
While his diminished statistics last season may be somewhat justified by the fact that he lost Andrew Luck shortly before the start of the season, The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz recently told 93.7 The Fan that the Colts believe Ebron did not their best when things started going south last season. After a 5-2 draw, Indianapolis lost seven of their last nine games to end a 7-9 record. Hebron’s final season in Indianapolis also included controversywho put him aside for five games.
“I’m sure the Steelers have done their due diligence, but the reason the Colts let him go is because they heard he left the group this season,” said Kravitz. “He had, I think it was an ankle, that the team was not even aware of a problem and then suddenly said: ‘Here, I am closing it.’ I remember asking Chris Ballard the GM, “What are you going to do with Eric Ebron?” And he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Yes, we’re done with him. Let’s go on. “So, if you find him in the right frame of mind, he’s a very productive guy. But he’s a little mercurial, I guess that’s the word I’d use.”
Hebron wasted no time in turning to one of his critics shortly after signing with the Steelers, responding to a quote from an anonymous NFL scout who claimed to be “the opposite of Heath Miller” The former Pittsburgh narrow end that helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls in the 2000s. Hebron has faced questions throughout his career about his blockade and lack of consistency in catching football. While he made a number of featured catches, Hebron also had his share of drops, leading to criticism from fans and the media.
Regardless of what happened in Indianapolis, Hebron will get a clean slate with the Steelers, who are looking to maximize what could be the last two years of Ben Roethlisberger’s career. Pittsburgh certainly hopes that Hebron can help sustain a Steelers offense that died for the last time in the red zone’s efficiency last season, a season that saw Roethlisberger lose 14 games due to an elbow injury.
Hebron’s departure from Indianapolis brings to mind a similar situation as regards another somewhat recent acquisition of free Steelers agents. In 2015, after a disorderly departure from the Panthers, the return of DeAngelo Williams signed a two-year agreement with the Steelers. As he continued to be blunt, Williams adapted like a glove to Pittsburgh, jealous with the rest of the team’s veterans and making a significant contribution to the field. In 2015, Williams emerged as the league leader in rapid touchdowns while helping Pittsburgh get a place in the playoffs. His first contributions in 2016 helped the Steelers win AFC Nord before falling to a game from the Super Bowl.
The Steelers hope to have a similar success story with Ebron, which could prove to be one of the biggest free agent deals of the 2020 low season.