Lions drop former first-round pick Eric Ebron after failing to find trade partner

After four disappointing seasons, Eric Ebron's time in Detroit has come to an end, which means another young tight end is hitting free agency.

On Wednesday, as first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter and later confirmed by the team, the Lions released Ebron, which will save them $8.25 million, according to the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett. Schefter reported that the Lions tried to trade Ebron before dumping him, but they were unable to find a team willing to give up something for a player who never caught on in Detroit. If you're wondering about the timing of the release, it's because Ebron's fifth-year option would've become fully guaranteed at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, as Pro Football Talk noted.

Ebron, taken 10th overall in 2014 out of North Carolina, never developed into the multi-dimensional tight end the Lions thought he'd become. He averaged roughly 47 receptions, 518 yards and three touchdowns per season with his best year coming in 2016, when he totaled 61 catches and 711 yards. According to Pro Football Focus, Ebron racked up 25 drops over the past four seasons.

To make matters worse, the Lions drafted Ebron right before a whole host of top-tier NFL players went off the board, a group that includes Odell Beckham and Aaron Donald -- arguably the two best players at their position groups.

As our Will Brinson so perfectly put it, "OOOOOOH NOOOOOO."

But Ebron, despite his struggles, will likely have suitors. Jimmy Graham already landed in Green Bay while Trey Burton signed with Chicago. So Ebron is joining a group of free agents that doesn't include any proven talents. The best remaining tight end might be Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has never pieced together a season that measures up to Ebron's level of production. For all of his faults, Ebron will still be only 25 when next season begins. And Pro Football Focus graded him as their 13th best tight end in 2017 (tied with Burton).

The point being, someone will take a chance on him with the idea that they'll be the one to finally unleash his full potential.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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