INDIANAPOLIS - Tight end Eric Ebron is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and Lions general manager Bob Quinn has until May 3 to decide whether or not the team will pick up Ebron's fifth-year option.
When asked about Ebron down at the NFL Scouting Combine, Quinn even mentioned the possibility of working out an extension with Ebron in the coming months.
"We're open to talking about an extension," Quinn said. "But I think that's months down the line."
Ebron, the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft, has improved his production in each of his first three seasons in Detroit. He finished in the top 10 among tight ends this past season with 61 catches and 711 yards.
But Ebron found the end zone just once, and led all tight ends with seven drops. He also had two critical drops in Detroit's playoff loss in Seattle.
Still, there is no denying Ebron's immense talent as a playmaker. His size and speed make him a weapon for Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.
"He needs to show consistency," Quinn said. "Eric's a really talented player and he does a lot of things well. We've had a lot of conversations with Eric, not only myself, the coaching staff, of things he needs to improve on. And, you know, every player leaves in January or February with a list of things they need to work on to get back.
"When they come back in April, we want to see that they have improved their bodies, they have improved this skill or that skill, so this is just the beginning part of the process for Eric to see if he can take it to that next step."
Whatever the Lions decide to do with Ebron doesn't change the fact they will still need to address the position this offseason. Tim Wright, Matthew Mulligan and Clay Harbor can all hit free agency next week. The only other tight ends on the roster are Cole Wick, Kennard Backman and Khari Lee.
The good news for Quinn and Co. is that this is the deepest tight end draft class in recent memory. Alabama's O.J. Howard is the top prospect, but there will be quality players available through all three days of the draft.