The New York Giants made headlines Wednesday when they signed free agent wide receiver Brandon Marshall. When the clock struck 4:00 p.m. EST and the new league year officially began, the Giants announced they came to an agreement with tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison.
Ellison signed a four-year, $18 million deal with $8 million guaranteed.
Ellison played collegiately at USC and was named First-team All-Pac-12 in his senior season of 2011. He was a fourth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2012. Ellison appeared in 73 games for Minnesota with 41 starts. He caught 51 passes for 515 yards and three touchdowns.
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Ellison (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) has been brought in primarily because of his run blocking ability.
He tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in the Vikings’ 2015 regular season finale. He had surgery and appeared in all 16 games (with nine starts) last season. Vikings tight ends coach Kevin Stefanski mentioned Ellison’s “physical and mental toughness” when describing the severity of the injury and Ellison’s determination to return to the field.
Ellison’s signing could be bad news for the fullback/tight end hybrid the Giants already have on the roster: Will Johnson. Johnson was expected to fill the fullback/tight end hybrid role but he suffered a stinger in the preseason and missed the entire regular season and postseason.
The Giants also have three true tight ends on the roster: Jerell Adams, Matt LaCosse, and Will Tye.
LaCosse and Tye re-signed with the team last month as exclusive rights free agents (ERFA). Adams, a sixth-round pick in 2016, is also under a financially friendly contract. Johnson has a year remaining on the two-year, $2.3 million contract he signed last season. He has a cap hit of $1.275 million but releasing him would only free up $200,000.
Ellison is the son of former USC and NFL linebacker Riki Ellison. Riki Ellison was a fifth-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 1983 and the first native of New Zealand to play in the NFL. Riki Ellison won two Rose Bowls (1978, 1979) and a national championship at USC (1978). He also won three Super Bowls (XIX, XXIII, XXIV) in his first seven seasons with the 49ers.