Allen Park — On the day of the deadline to make a decision, the Detroit Lions have exercised the fifth-year option on tight end Eric Ebron's contract.
"I spoke to Eric this morning, early, before he was in for workouts, had a good talk and we're excited to do that for him," general manager Bob Quinn said in an interview Tuesday morning with 97.1 FM.
A first-round pick in 2014, Ebron has been a polarizing figure since his arrival. But in three seasons with the Lions, he's steadily increased his production. His career-best 711 receiving yards in 2016 ranked seventh among tight ends.
The option will play Ebron $8.26 million in 2018, the average of the top-10 cap hits for players at his position. The option year becomes guaranteed on the first day of the new league year next March. It is also guaranteed for injury.
Quinn explained why he waited until the last minute to make his decision.
"I think that's part of my job is to keep every possible option open on any part of this organization," Quinn said. "Obviously the draft is a big event to add talent to the team. I think the league rules put that May 2 date there for a reason. It's not an arbitrary day. It's after the draft for a reason, to give teams a time to evaluate what they get in the draft and make a decision on their former first-round picks.
"This is something we've thought about and talked about, internally here, since the end of the season," Quinn said. "I kind of had my mind made up, probably last week at some point, but I wanted to get through the draft and see. You never know what can happen in the draft, what kind of players would slip to you."
The Lions did select a tight end in the draft, taking Toledo's Michael Roberts in the fourth round. But Quinn said last weekend the decision to pick up Ebron's option would not likely to be impacted by the addition of Roberts.
“I don’t think it affects the decision on Eric that we’ll make here in the next couple days,” Quinn said. “I would say this though, Michael is a different kind of tight end than Eric is. Eric’s a fast, athletic, ‘F’ tight end, we call them. Big Mike is a ‘Y’.”
Of the 32 first-round picks in 2014, the first-round options have been picked up for 22 players.