Dallas Cowboys: Could tight end Eric Ebron be a target in free agency?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 10: Eric Ebron #85 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 10: Eric Ebron #85 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys will need to figure out the future of their tight end position this offseason. Will they find the answer in free agency?

The Dallas Cowboys have spent the early portion of their offseason getting their coaching staff settled. As that nears an end, their focus now turns to their roster. And one area in desperate need of attention is at the tight end position.

Just three seasons ago, the tight end position in Dallas seemed stacked. Future Hall of Famer Jason Witten appeared entrenched at the position for the foreseeable future despite being in his mid-thirties. Both Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin provided the team with respectable options as Witten’s potential replacements.

The Cowboys spent a fourth-round selection on Stanford’s Dalton Schultz in 2018. And Dallas had invested several seasons into former basketball star turned preseason darling Rico Gathers, who was surely a red zone monster in the making.

But as the Cowboys enter 2020, Witten is contemplating a second retirement. Swaim left to join the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency last year.

Jarwin is expected to hit the open market this March as an unrestricted free agent. And the team parted ways with Gathers before the start of last season. That leaves the underwhelming Schultz and reserve/futures contract signee Cole Hikutini as the only tight ends on the Cowboys roster going into 2020.

Regardless if Witten decides to re-join the Cowboys this season or not, Dallas will undoubtedly need to find a more consistent starter and simply more bodies to fill out the depth chart. Obviously, re-signing Jarwin would be the preferred choice of many fans as the third-year tight end has shown the potential to be a top-notch receiver at the position.

Yet, with head coach Mike McCarthy taking the reins from Jason Garrett and replacing nearly every positional coach, Dallas is now on a very different path. And it’s one that will likely not include many players fans have become accustomed to seeing in recent seasons. With McCarthy now in charge, the former Green Bay Packers head coach will likely want to remake the tight end position his own way.

According to Bucky Brooks, an NFL Media Analyst who also played under McCarthy as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, his old ball coach could be looking for a tight end who can dominate in the middle of the field. Here’s what Brooks recently told DallasCowboys.com

"“[McCarthy] believes in having multiple tight ends … As you think about the Cowboys evolving their offense, they do need a tight end that can kinda play that flex/slot position while also coming into the backfield. It would be nice to have someone who can dominate inside the numbers to make life easy for Dak Prescott.”"

It’s clear many fans believe that tight end should be Jarwin. But longtime Cowboys insider Nick Eatman mentioned another name during this week’s broadcast of the Cowboys Break. And that’s free-agent tight end, Eric Ebron.

Ebron was famously the 10th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. Unfortunately, he was never able to live up to his lofty draft status in the Motor City and eventually landed with Indianapolis Colts, reviving his career.

With Colts quarterback Andrew Luck under center in 2018, Ebron posted an impressive 66 receptions for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first season in Indy. All of which were career-highs. Ebron also received his first and only Pro Bowl nomination due to his efforts.

But this past season, Ebron regressed with quarterback Jacoby Brissett at the helm. He posted just 31 catches for 375 yards and three scores in an injury-shortened (ankle),11-game season, starting in just two contests. Now, the 26-year old is set to hit the free-agent market in March just one year removed from his breakout season.

As for how McCarthy might utilize someone like Ebron in the Cowboys offense, the versatile tight end spent 152 snaps in the slot, 69 snaps along the outside, and just 102 snaps on the line. That according to Rotoworld.com.

Next. Dallas Cowboys 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time. dark

As the Dallas Cowboys enter the free agency period of their offseason, most expect the team to be very conservative due to the number of their own high-profile players they need to re-sign. But not all the Cowboys needs will be filled with these signings and through the upcoming NFL draft. If Dallas decides to dip their toes into free agency, Eric Ebron may be a name to watch.