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Lions pick up fifth-year option on TE Eric Ebron

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Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn finally answered the Eric Ebron question.

The team announced Tuesday it would pick up the fifth-year option on the up-and-down tight end. The option is guaranteed for injury only.

While many Lions fans have been frustrated with Ebron's inconsistent play and propensity for drops over the past three seasons, and some are likely annoyed Quinn would be willing to pay him roughly $8.25 million in 2018, it was an easy move, like most fifth-year options.

Ebron was a top-10 pick by ex-GM Martin Mayhew, so Quinn could have cut ties after this season on a player he didn't choose. But even while the tight end struggled in his first two years, last year he showed he could be a top-10 caliber tight end in the NFL. Ebron's 61 receptions for 711 yards both rank in the top 10 at the position. He might not ever be Greg Olsen, but he's a solid contributor.

It's not the production Detroit hoped it was getting when spending a high pick on the athletic pass-catcher -- especially when, in hindsight, Odell Beckham Jr. and Aaron Donald were still on the board -- but a player can't choose which team drafts him. Ebron has improved each year of his career at a position notoriously difficult to make a quick transition from college to the NFL. And entering his fourth season the expectations are another leap in Jim Bob Cooter's offense in 2017. If he improves upon his 2016 numbers, Detroit won't mind paying that 2018 salary. If he struggles, Quinn can cut bait next offseason.

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