Nate Ebner

Nate Ebner Withdraws From US Rugby Team, Opening Door To Giants Reunion

Nate Ebner won’t be heading to the Olympics after all. The veteran free agent announced today that he’s no longer competing for a spot on the USA rugby squad, thus taking him out of contention for the summer games. This opens the door for the Giants to finally re-sign Ebner.

Ebner previously played on the United States’ Under-19 and Under-20 national rugby teams, and he was a member of the rugby sevens squad that represented the country at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Ebner is also a co-owner (along with former teammate Patrick Chung) in a Major League Rugby team.

“It pains me to announce my withdrawal from competing for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics with the USA Men’s Sevens,” Ebner said in a social media message (via Paul Schwartz of the NY Post). “After the 2020 NFL season, I had an injury that required off-season surgery. While my recovery is on track for the next football season, unfortunately the time tables did not align with trials for the Games.’’

Following an eight-year stint with the Patriots where he won three Super Bowl rings, Ebner joined former special teams coordinator (and current Giants head coach) Joe Judge in New York last year. The 32-year-old finished the season with eight tackles while appearing in 81-percent of his team’s special teams snaps. Earlier this offseason, Judge indicated that the Giants would bring back Ebner once he finished his stint with the US team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Plan To Re-Sign Nate Ebner

Nate Ebner followed Joe Judge from the Patriots to the Giants last season, signing a one-year deal in March 2020. He is on track for a second season in New York.

Although the veteran special-teamer remains a free agent, Judge said he intends to bring him back for a second season, per ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). Ebner, 32, is currently participating in a different sport that will occupy his time for a bit.

The Ohio native is training to be part of Team USA’s rugby squad for the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Ebner participated in the 2016 Rio Games, when the Patriots granted him the opportunity to make that team, and suited up for 19 games as part of New England’s Super Bowl champion outfit that year. The expectation this time around is Ebner re-signs with the Giants after the Olympics conclude, Raanan notes. These Games, which the COVID-19 pandemic delayed by a year, will run from July 23-August 8.

Ebner played 16 games for the Giants last season, logging 332 special teams snaps (81% of Big Blue’s special teams plays). The 2021 season would be the former sixth-round pick’s 10th in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Williams

While the Cowboys have imported two of the 2019 Panthers’ three defensive line starters — in Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe — they are not looking to move on from Tyrone Crawford. The Cowboys have asked Crawford to yo-yo between defensive end and tackle in his career, and with the two high-profile veterans coming to Dallas, it is reasonable to wonder about their longtime lineman’s role. But as of now, it should be expected Crawford will be Dallas’ starting D-end opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News notes. Despite Crawford only playing in four games last season, the Cowboys are also not expected to ask the 30-year-old lineman to take a pay cut from the $8MM salary he is due in 2020, Moore adds. Crawford, whose contract is up after 2020, would be taking the place of Robert Quinn opposite Lawrence. Quinn signed a mega-deal with the Bears.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Eagles entered the DeAndre Hopkins sweepstakes, but the Cardinals’ offer of David Johnson and a second-round pick surprisingly won out. Howie Roseman said Thursday the deal the Texans offered him was different than what the Cardinals ended up agreeing to, per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). It is not known what the Eagles offered, but this marks the most recent instance of them entering the pursuit of a high-profile AFC South player and not winning out. Roseman bowed out of the Jalen Ramsey sweepstakes last year. The lofty Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson cap numbers would have made a Hopkins extension interesting for Philly to navigate.
  • Despite the Cowboys signing both McCoy and Poe to help on their interior defensive line, they are not likely to look outside the organization to help on their interior O-line. Travis Frederick‘s successor will probably be an in-house move, Jon Machota of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Considering the Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern in the 2019 third round and re-signed Joe Looney — their 2018 replacement for Frederick — it should not surprise they will look internally at center. The Cowboys placed a second-round grade on McGovern last year, and even though he missed all of last season, the Penn State product should have a good shot at succeeding Frederick.
  • Although nearly half the league used a franchise or a transition tag this year, the GiantsLeonard Williams tag may have been the most interesting decision. New York’s Williams tag will cost at least $16.1MM (the defensive tackle price) and could run as much as $17.8MM (for defensive ends), but Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes the Giants are not likely to sign the former Jets first-rounder to a deal that averages $16MM per year. If that is the case, Williams should be expected to play 2020 on the tag.
  • The Cowboys gave Kai Forbath a one-year, $1.18MM deal, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). The veteran kicker, who succeeded Brett Maher last year, will receive a $137K signing bonus.
  • The Giants‘ deal for ex-Patriots special-teamer Nate Ebner is a one-year, $2MM pact, per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Ebner will receive a $950K roster bonus and a $1.05MM base salary.

Giants To Sign Nate Ebner

The Giants have agreed to sign special teams ace Nate Ebner, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Ebner is just the latest free agent to depart from the Patriots and he’ll find a familiar face in head coach Joe Judge when he arrives in New Jersey.

Ebner, who has a background in rugby, has been with the Pats since 2012. He voiced a desire to stay but, ultimately, the two sides weren’t able to come to terms on a new deal.

“That would be the best thing, I think, when you consider my entire career has been here,” Ebner said recently when asked about the possibility of re-signing. “I’ve got some true friendships here. … But right now it’s out of my hands, so we’ll see what happens.”

The former sixth-rounder has won three Super Bowl rings across eight years in New England.

Extra Points: Cam, Robinson, Slay, Olsen

We’ve got more details on Greg Robinson‘s recent arrest. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero passes along (via Twitter) that the offensive lineman was busted with approximately 157 pounds of marijuana.

Robinson was arrested alongside former NFL wideout Quan Bray, who served as a return man for the Colts between 2015 and 2017. If the duo is convicted of possession with intent to distribute, they could each face up to 20 years in federal prison. The two were traveling with a third passenger, who was not arrested (although Robinson reportedly tried to bribe the passenger to take the fall).

The soon-to-be-free agent re-signed with the Browns on a one-year, $7MM deal before the 2019 season. Robinson struggled throughout the campaign, and he temporarily lost his starting gig. We learned earlier today that Cleveland won’t be pursuing another contract with the former second-overall pick.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Teams will be allowed to do their research on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton before committing to a trade. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that a team can give a physical to a potential trade acquisition (with the permission of the incumbent team). Considering the former MVP has suffered a long list of injuries throughout his career, this will be an important hurdle to overcome during negotiations (especially, as Florio notes, if Newton is looking for a brand-new contract).
  • A league executive believes it’d take a second- or third-rounder to pry cornerback Darius Slay from the Lions (via Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post on Twitter). Of course, that same executive believes the three-time Pro Bowler will also command a contract that’s worth at least $15MM per season. We recently heard that teams have inquired on Slay, and the cornerback may be looking for a fresh start.
  • Whenever Greg Olsen retires, it sounds like he won’t struggle to find a new job. The veteran tight end had discussions with multiple networks regarding a “high-profile” television gig, reports Joe Person of The Athletic (via Twitter). Ultimately, the 13-year veteran decided to sign a one-year, $7MM deal with the Seahawks.
  • Nate Ebner has spent his entire career with the Patriots, and the special teams ace (and impending free agent) would like to stick with New England. “That would be the best thing, I think, when you consider my entire career has been here,” Ebner told reporters (via NESN’s Zack Cox on Twitter). “I’ve got some true friendships here. … But right now it’s out of my hands, so we’ll see what happens.” The former sixth-rounder has won three Super Bowls during his eight years in New England, and he also earned a second team All-Pro nod in 2016.

Patriots Notes: Thomas, Michel, Gronk, Wynn

Demaryius Thomas is not a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster and may well begin the season on the reserve/PUP list. The Patriots started that process Sunday by placing the Pro Bowl wide receiver on their active/PUP list, which applies to players not healthy enough to begin participating in training camp. The Pats used the same designation for Sony Michel, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Michel will certainly be part of the 2019 Patriots and is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Thomas tore an Achilles in December, joining longtime receiver teammate Emmanuel Sanders in that regard. The latter, however, is further along in his recovery, having not started Broncos camp on the PUP list.

Here is the latest out of New England:

  • Patriots third-round pick Yodny Cajuste underwent quadriceps surgery before the draft and landed on the defending Super Bowl champions’ reserve/NFI list, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. As is the case with the active/PUP list, players can come off this list at any point during camp. Cajuste figures to mix in as a swing option for the Patriots as a rookie.
  • If Rob Gronkowski does follow through on a comeback, might the Patriots be wise to assure him blocking responsibilities will be limited? While the future Hall of Famer was a plus blocker for his position, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe suggests the Pats use Gronk as a hybrid-type player that does not have the same kind of in-line role he previously held. The 30-year-old icon has slimmed down this offseason, one that has reportedly not featured much in the way of strength work.
  • Deatrich Wise and Nate Ebner will join Thomas and Michel on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss tweets. A third-year defensive end, Wise has not missed a game in two seasons.
  • Isaiah Wynn, however, will not appear on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss adds (via Twitter). The 2018 first-round pick missed all of his rookie season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon. Suffering the injury before last season began, Wynn is expected to suit up when the Patriots convene for their 2019 camp and line up as New England’s starting left tackle.
  • The Pats do not appear to have an open spot at quarterback, with Reiss noting Brian Hoyer will stick as Tom Brady‘s top backup and rookie Jarrett Stidham is likely assured of a roster spot as the team’s latest developmental QB project. This puts 2018 seventh-round pick Danny Etling on the verge of again falling short of a spot on the team’s active roster. But he may have an outside shot as a Taysom Hill-like role, per Reiss. While the Purdue and LSU alum never rushed for more than 200 yards in a season in college, Reiss points to his 86-yard touchdown run during 2018 preseason play as a sign this outside-the-box notion could work. The Patriots probably aren’t too eager to take Brady off the field, however.

Contract Details: CBs, McDougald, Ellis

Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Patriots Re-Sign Nate Ebner

The Patriots have re-signed a key special teamer. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that New England has signed safety Nate Ebner to a two-year deal.

The 29-year-old has spent his entire six-year career in New England. After compiling a career-high 19 tackles in 2016, Ebner was limited to only nine games and eight tackles last season. The former sixth-round pick struggled through a shoulder injury early in the season, and he landed on the injured reserve in November after tearing his ACL.

Ebner has also had a successful rugby career. At 17, the Ohio native became the youngest player to join the United States national rugby team, and he proceeded to play in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Ebner didn’t play football throughout high school, and he joined Ohio State as a walk-on during his junior year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pats DB/ST Nate Ebner Placed On IR

Patriots special teamer Nate Ebner suffered a knee injury on a fake punt in Week 12 and has officially been placed on IR, according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Nate Ebner (Vertical)

Ebner, 28, is in the midst of his sixth season in New England, but he’s never played a large role on the defensive side of the ball. Although he’s appeared in 82 career games, Ebner has never made a start, as most of his action has come on special teams. In nine games this season, Ebner hadn’t played a single defensive snap, but had seen time on 60% of the Patriots’ special teams plays.

Scheduled to become a free agent at season’s end, Ebner ranked as one of the NFL’s best special teamers in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. As a whole, New England is typically excellent on special teams: they’ve ranked as a top-five unit by DVOA in six of the past seven seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots To Activate Nate Ebner

The Patriots have finally made a roster move (their first since training camp began), as the club announced that they’ve waived offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson, who was signed on July 24. New England needed to clear a roster spot to activate safety Nate Ebner, who had been participating in the Olympics, as head coach Bill Belichick confirmed to reporters, including Doug Kyed of NESN.com.Nate Ebner (Vertical)

[RELATED: Offseason In Review — New England Patriots]

Ebner, 27, re-signed with the Patriots on a two-year, $2.4MM deal that contains $500K guaranteed and a $250K reporting bonus (per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com), and New England presumably agreed to the contract with the knowledge that Ebner would try out for the U.S. rugby team. Ebner has never started a game during his four-year NFL career, but he’s appeared in 57 contests as an extremely valuable special teams piece. In 2016, for example, Ebner played on more than three-quarters of the Patriots’ special teams snaps.

New England had been granted a roster exemption while Ebner was away, and Belichick today indicated that Ebner will have some work to do in order to prepare for the season. “Football,” said Belichick, when asked what Ebner would need to adjust to, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). “Not training, football. He hasn’t played football. You can go out there and run around a track all you want, but you put 21 other guys out there and it’s a whole different ball game.” 

Kerbyson, meanwhile, lasted on the Patriots’ roster for about three weeks. The former Tennessee Volunteer went undrafted earlier this year, but started all 13 games at left tackle during his senior season, during which he was named second-team All SEC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.