One of the most shocking things about Eric Ebron’s release last week was that the Detroit Lions didn’t bother trading him, or, rather, they couldn’t get anything for him in a trade. Seeing as the free agent market for tight ends was hot this year—heck, Trey Burton got four years and $32 million from the Bears—it would seem like there would be a market out there for a guy like Eric Ebron, even with his $8.25 million cap hit for 2018.
But according to Browns Wire and Texans Wire managing editor Jeff Risdon—who has Detroit connections—the Lions may have had their hands tied when trying to offer Ebron to other teams. Risdon joined “The Detroit Lions Podcast” (not officially affiliated with the team) and dropped this bombshell.
[Risdon starts talking about it at the 25:00 mark, if you’d like to listen yourself]
“Some of this, again, is on him. The Lions did actually try to trade him, numerous people will confirm that. The problem is, he wanted to be a free agent. Whenever anybody with the Lions would call, they’re like, ‘Okay, he’s on the last year of his deal, so we need to talk to him and see if he’ll do a [new] contract.’ And he would not do it.
He wants to play another year because he thinks he’s going to have a big year, he’s poised for it—I think this is somewhat agent driven, by the way—and he wants to bet on himself the way a lot of players seem to be doing this offseason and free agency, and then it would help him get an even better contract than if he signed now.”
Before we get into the implications of what this means, let it be known this is just a rumor. Risdon is typically very credible on Lions stuff, but as with a lot of rumors during free agency, there is a lot of noise put out there by teams and agents.
But if what Risdon says is true, then it’s a huge development as to why the Lions didn’t trade Ebron. He’s suggesting that because Ebron refused to sign a contract extension with teams interested in a trade, he basically made himself untradeable.
Of course, this theorized plan to make himself more desirable (and therefore earn more money) in free agency by playing one more year on his rookie contract backfired when the Lions cut him. However, Ebron has still earned a fair amount of interest on the market already, and will likely get a fairly decent new contract—just maybe not as much as he had planned.
While it’s important we treat this report as a rumor and not as gospel, it does serve as a reminder that things aren’t always as simple as they seem. It’s not always as easy to orchestrate a trade as it looks on the surface, and there are complications in negotiations that we don’t see happening with just about every NFL transaction.