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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels in the pros: Former UNC football players navigate NFL offseason

Trubisky scramble
Former North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) stiff arms a Florida State defender in 2016.

The 2020 NFL season finished up earlier this year, but with free agency now in full swing, many former UNC football players continue to find new homes.

Here is a look at some familiar names and how they can thrive moving into the new campaign.

Mitchell Trubisky

Since forgoing his senior year at UNC and being drafted No. 2 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, Mitchell Trubisky has been the featured quarterback for the Chicago Bears. But after an up-and-down tenure, he now has a new home, as he signed with the Buffalo Bills in March.

Trubisky’s early seasons in Chicago were rocky due to his struggles with throwing accuracy and adapting to NFL defensive schemes. After earning a Pro Bowl selection and leading the Bears to the NFC North title in 2018, Trubisky did not have as much success in the last two seasons, as the Bears missed the playoffs in 2019 and he was frequently benched in 2020.

Despite his inconsistencies, Trubisky still managed to lock in and break a few records. He holds the Bears single-game postseason passing yardage record with 303 and was the fastest quarterback in team history to reach 10,000 passing yards, doing so in just 49 games. 

In his final season in Chicago, Trubisky threw for 2,055 yards while notching 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.  

Trubisky will join the Bills as a backup quarterback to potential MVP candidate, Josh Allen. With the one-year contract, Trubisky could earn a spot as a starter somewhere next offseason. 

Eric Ebron

Tight end Eric Ebron found a new home with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2020 season.

Ebron was initially drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft after three years at UNC. He went on to play with the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 and 2019 before signing with Pittsburgh in March 2020. 

Ebron and the Steelers started the season strong, winning 11 consecutive games to open up the season. But this momentum only carried them for so long, as they went on to lose five of their last six, which included two consecutive losses to the Cleveland Browns to close out the season.  

Throughout the season, Ebron made a statement with his offensive performance and thrived with the team’s chemistry, totaling 56 receptions, 558 yards and five touchdowns.

One area where Ebron flashed his potential was in the red zone, as his size and speed posed a difficult matchup for those who covered him. If Pittsburgh can continue to utilize his talents, he can become a real difference maker in the coming years.

Tre Boston

It is still unknown what team safety Tre Boston will be playing for this season.

Boston was selected by the Carolina Panthers as a fourth round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. After three seasons with the Panthers, he completed two one-year stints with both the Los Angles Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals. Boston then returned to Carolina in 2019 and has been with the team for the past two seasons. 

Last season, Boston started all 16 games for the Panthers and totaled 95 tackles, the third most on the team. But with the Panthers relying on younger defensive players like Myles Hartsfield and Sam Franklin, Boston was released by the Panthers in March. 

As a current member of the safety free agent market, it will be interesting to see where Boston lands in future seasons. Wherever he ends up, he'll surely provide a veteran presence that can help guide a young team, as he did for the Panthers in his latest stint in Charlotte. 

@DTHSports |  

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