Late on Tuesday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter dropped a bomb. On the verge of free agency, the Detroit Lions are reportedly taking calls on proposals to trade for tight end Eric Ebron.
The news isn’t exactly all that shocking. Ebron is currently carrying an inflated $8.25 million cap hit, and was on the trading block during the 2017 trade deadline. Even though general manager Bob Quinn has insisted that Ebron is a part of the roster, there was always the feeling that that could change at any minute.
But last time, the Lions didn’t hear an offer good enough to make the move. Whether the Lions’ asking price was too high or the offers given were too low, Detroit held onto the tight end during the trade deadline, and it worked out quite well for them. Ebron improved drastically down the stretch, and now his value is likely much higher.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
What kind of offer would you accept for Eric Ebron in a trade?
My answer: To keep things simple, let’s just talk draft picks. Obviously, the Lions could make a trade for players, like a much-needed veteran pass rusher or an interior offensive linemen. However, it’s extremely hard to gauge equal value in a player-to-player trade.
So what would be the appropriate compensation in terms of draft picks? Let’s take a look at history to see what’s realistic.
There aren’t a ton of tight end trades in recent history, but the trades of Martellus Bennett and Jimmy Graham are decent benchmarks. For Bennett, the Chicago Bears decided to trade the tight end back in 2016. Bennett, like Ebron, was on the final year of his contract facing a pretty high cap number ($5.1 million). Here are the trade terms:
Patriots get: Martellus Bennett, 2016 6th-round pick
Bears get: 2016 4th-round pick
The main difference in this trade is that Bennett was 29 at the time and only had three of eight season in which he had over 500 yards receiving. Ebron is currently just 24 and also has three (of four) seasons with 500+ yards.
Jimmy Graham was playing at a level much higher than both when he was traded. Already a three-time Pro Bowler and considered one of the best tight ends in the game, it was a shock when the Saints traded him just a year after signing him to a four-year extension. Their compensation was loaded:
Seahawks get: Jimmy Graham, 2015 5th-round pick
Saints get: C Max Unger, 2015 1st-round pick
So the Lions would likely get something between both deals, if they were to trade Eric Ebron. Personally, I don’t think I’d accept anything less than a third-round pick. He’s young, he’s likely already a top-10 tight end in the league, and he could certainly benefit from a change in scenery.
If a team were to offer a third-round pick, I don’t think I’d hesitate in accepting a deal. First, the move would save the Lions $8.25 million in cap space, giving them plenty of wiggle room to spend during free agency. Additionally, regardless of how well Ebron plays in 2018, it seems unlikely that Detroit would choose to keep him around after his contract expires next year. Better to get something for him now than to have to rely on the chance that they get a compensatory pick for him in a few years.
Letting Ebron go for a third-round pick essentially gives the Lions the opportunity to pick up two long-term starters, one with the free agency savings and one with the third-round pick. That could end up being much more valuable than the one remaining year on Ebron’s contract.
A third-round pick may be too rich for teams to pay, considering Ebron’s inconsistency over the past four years, but there’s no harm in asking.
What is the minimum compensation you’d accept for Eric Ebron in a trade?
This poll is closed