ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- At the end of October, Eric Ebron appeared to be a player headed out of town. Sure, the Detroit Lions had picked up his fifth-year option in May, but as long as Ebron didn’t get hurt it would be an easy thing to get out of.
Moving Ebron was also a consideration before the trade deadline, but the Lions ended up holding onto their former first round-pick, and he made it worth their while.
Yet his future in Detroit is still unknown.
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know,” Ebron told ESPN on Monday. “I wish I had a better understanding, but I don’t know.”
Here are the numbers: His $8.25 million salary for 2018 is not guaranteed, so the Lions can cut him at no cost if they choose. It will be one of many decisions general manager Bob Quinn has to make this offseason. When asked if Ebron would be with the team next season, Quinn said, "Yeah, he's under contract with a tender."
Based on the first half of Ebron’s season, it would have made little sense to keep him, though. He admits he was unproductive, and his role was somewhat different due to Detroit’s issues at offensive tackle. But after the trade deadline passed and Ebron was still with the Lions, he started to look like the player Detroit always hoped he’d become.
Since Week 9, Ebron tied with Jack Doyle for third among tight ends in receptions (38) and was fourth in yards (414) behind Rob Gronkowski, Delanie Walker and Travis Kelce. His three touchdowns tied for sixth.
And that made his season totals much more respectable. He finished 12th among tight ends in receptions with 53 and 11th in yards with 574. Yet he said the not knowing about his future is not all that frustrating.
“It’s not. It’s not frustrating because I know what I’m capable of and I know what I can do,” Ebron said. “The frustrating part is going through the season and having the struggles the way I did at the beginning.
“That was the frustrating part, but you get over that stuff and you just build on it and have better days.”
Ebron knows he did that over the second half of the season. And that leaves the Lions with a potentially tough decision to make.