INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts made a major splash in free agency tonight, signing tight end Eric Ebron.
The 24-year-old Ebron — who stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 253 pounds — was a record-setting tight end at the University of North Carolina before entering the NFL Draft following his junior season, when the Detroit Lions made him the 10th-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
In his first four NFL seasons, Ebron continued to be a consistent playmaker, averaging about 47 receptions, 518 yards and three touchdowns per year within the Lions’ offense. He had a career-best five touchdown receptions his second season in 2015, logged a career-high 61 receptions for 711 yards in 2016, and followed that up with 53 receptions for 574 yards and four touchdowns last season.
But last week, the Lions decided to release the veteran tight end, opening the doors to a visit with the Colts’ brass on Monday.
The signing of Ebron gives the Colts one of the top pass-catching tight end duos in the league, as he’ll be paired with Jack Doyle, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season after establishing career-bests in receptions (80) and receiving yards (690), while also hauling in four touchdown receptions.
Doyle ranked second among all NFL tight ends with his 80 receptions, which were also the second-most in a single season by a tight end in Colts franchise history, trailing only Dallas Clark’s franchise-record 100 receptions set back in 2009.
The Colts also have some youth behind Doyle and Ebron on the depth chart. Mo Alie-Cox, who had emerged as the team’s No. 2 tight end last offseason before suffering a season-ending knee injury during the preseason, headed into this offseason an exclusive rights free agent; the team tendered Swoope, however, meaning he’ll likely be back in Indy in 2018.
Others on the offseason roster at the tight end position include Darrell Daniels, Ross Travis, Jason Vander Laan and Mo Alie-Cox, none of whom are older than 25.