Lions general manager Bob Quinn said the team hasn't decided whether it will exercise the fifth-year option in Ebron's contract, Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press reports. "It's a possibility," Quinn said. "We're still in the process of evaluating Eric's situation. We have until May 2, so we'll use our time." The Lions' decision could depend on what the team does in a draft which offers a strong crop of tight ends. The 10th overall selection in the 2014 draft, Ebron has been held back by injuries, drops and shaky blocking through his first three seasons, but he did catch 61 of 86 targets for 711 yards and a touchdown in only 13 games last year. While he hasn't developed quite the way the Lions were hoping, the 24-year-old tight end is already a capable starter and seemingly possesses untapped upside. Ebron's fifth-year option would lock him in for 2018 at a salary around $8-9 million, but the Lions could potentially lower that cap hit by working out an extension.
Ebron and the Lions could discuss a contract extension in the coming months, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com reports. Ebron is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2017, making his future with the Lions an increasingly pressing issue. According to general manager Bob Quinn, the organization is open to entering negotiations with Ebron down the line, making his situation one to monitor over this offseason. The 10th overall pick in 2014, Ebron has been plagued by nagging injuries and dropped passes through his first three seasons, but he showed signs of turning the corner with career bests of 61 receptions and 711 yards this past year.
Ebron's goal for next season is to go for 1,000 receiving yards, ESPN's Michael Rothstein reports. Ebron's 711 yards this season marked the most in any of this three professional seasons, as did his 61 receptions. That production came thanks to fewer drops, which made him a more reliable target for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Even though opposing defense started to scheme for Ebron over the course of the campaign, his development certainly took a step forward this season, and he'll have the added motivation of playing in the final year of his contract next season. That being said, Ebron has missed at least three games each year since entering the league, which could make it tough for him to reach the 1,000-yard mark, something only two tight ends did this season.
Ebron caught two of six targets for 23 yards during the Lions' 26-6 postseason loss to the Seahawks on Saturday. Much like the rest of the Lions offense, Ebron wasn't able to find his stride Saturday going against the league's eighth-ranked defense in yards allowed per game. No matter, the 2016 season still goes down as a success for the third-year tight who set career highs in receptions, receiving yards and yards per catch. His glaring knock comes in the touchdown department where Ebron tallied just a single score, but with Anquan Boldin set to hit free agency, the tight end could experience positive regression in that facet of his game next season as one of the clear focal points of the Lions' passing attack.
Ebron converted six targets into six catches for 61 yards in Sunday's loss to Green Bay. The former first-rounder appeared to be fading down the stretch, but has tallied 14 catches in the past two weeks. He walks into a buzz saw to start the playoffs against Seattle. Only four teams surrendered fewer catches to tight ends than Seattle this season and only five teams gave up fewer receiving yards. The defense isn't quite the same without Earl Thomas in the middle, but the best tight end performance to come since the free safety's season-ending knee injury was Green Bay's Jared Cook's 56-yard outing in Week 14.
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