Patriots trade 2018 fifth-round pick for Lions TE Eric Ebron
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Detroit Lions were listening to trade offers regarding tight end Eric Ebron. Were the Patriots one of the teams interested in acquiring the former first-rounder? There’s reason to suspect so.
According to the MMQB’s Peter King, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is still undecided on whether or not he’ll retire. Even if Gronkowski does return to New England next season, the team’s second-string tight end, Dwayne Allen, could be a potential cap cut, carrying a $5-million cap hit in 2018, per Spotrac. Combine that with the recent release of Martellus Bennett, and the Patriots’ only tight ends are Gronk, Jacob Hollister, and former practice squad member Will Tye.
Ebron hasn’t lived up to the expectations of a top-10 pick, although, he’s been a serviceable weapon in the Lions’ offense. Last season, he posted 53 catches for 574 yards and four touchdowns.
Why it should happen: New England loves to bring on tight ends to pair with Gronkowski. In 2014, it was Tim Wright, 2015, Scott Chandler, and since then, the aforementioned Bennett and Allen. The Patriots can find ways to create mismatches in two tight end sets much like they did with Wright, four years ago.
Why it won’t happen: Detroit accepted Ebron’s fifth-year option, meaning he would carry an $8.25-million cap hit in 2018, per Spotrac. In addition, he earned the worst run-blocking grade among tight ends from Pro Football Focus in 2017. Given Bill Belichick’s fondness for blocking tight ends, New England would be better off restructuring a deal with Allen.