By: Will Burchfield
The Lions have committed to Eric Ebron through the 2018 season.
The team exercised the fifth-year option on Ebron’s contract on Tuesday, the deadline by which management had to make a decision.
GM Bob Quinn said he had made up his mind on the matter prior to the draft last week, but wanted to let things play out before the May 2 deadline in case something unexpected happened.
“I think that’s part of my job, is to keep every possible option open on any part of this organization. The draft is obviously a big event to add talent to the team so I think the league rules put that May 2nd date in there for a reason, it’s not an arbitrary day. I think they do that a couple days after the draft to give the teams some time to evaluate what they get in the draft and then make decisions on their former first round picks,” Quinn told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket.
The Lions did take a tight end in the draft, landing Toledo-product Michael Roberts in the fourth round. But Quinn indicated at the time that it wouldn’t have any bearing on the team’s decision regarding Ebron, as the two players are fundamentally different despite playing the same position.
“Michael is a different kind of tight end than Eric is. Eric’s a fast, athletic, ‘F’ tight end, we call them. Big Mike is a ‘Y,'” Quinn said, later describing Roberts as a “red-area target.”
“Big guy that, for his size, runs well enough. I mean this guy isn’t a 4.5 guy, but for being 275 pounds, this guy moves pretty good. So I’m excited to add him to the group,” said Quinn.
Ebron, the Lions’ first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2014 draft, has increased his reception and yardage totals in each of his first three seasons. He finished tenth among tight ends in receptions (61) and eighth in yards (711) in 2016. The Lions decision to exercise his 2018 option comes as little surprise.
“I spoke to Eric early this morning before he was in for workouts,” said Quinn. “Had a good talk with Eric and we’re excited to do that for him.”
“This is something we’ve thought about and talked about internally here obviously since the end of the season,” Quinn added. “I kind of had my mind made up, probably at some point last week, but I wanted to get through the draft and see. You never know what can happen in the draft and what kind of players will slip to you.”
When the Lions selected Roberts in the fourth round, former Michigan tight end Jake Butt was still on the board. But the torn ACL that Butt suffered in Michigan’s bowl game dissuaded Detroit from drafting him.
“That was definitely a consideration,” Quinn said. “Have a great deal of respect for Jake, I was fortunate enough to meet him personally a couple of different times during this process. It’s unfortunate the injury situation happened how it did. I think Jake’s going to have a good career. At the time we were picking in the fourth round, I just thought the better value was to take Roberts.”