Rhett Ellison

East Notes: Zeke, Giants, McCoy

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott managed to escape a suspension for a potentially troublesome incident in May, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests that if Elliott should even come close to violating the league’s personal conduct policy again, the punishment will be severe. Commissioner Roger Goodell gave everyone in the league office this week off, so Florio believes the only reason for Goodell to summon Elliott to league headquarters on Tuesday was to sufficiently scare him into staying on the straight and narrow. Goodell has been less harsh with players who run afoul of league policies in recent history, but if Elliott should put another toe out of line in the future, the commissioner will likely hand out a lengthy ban, and his decision to not suspend Elliott this time will help to justify such a measure.

Now for more the league’s east divisions:

  • There do not seem to be any starting jobs up for grabs along the Giants‘ defensive line, even though the presumptive starters are young and mostly unproven. However, with that youth comes a great deal of potential, and one of the keys to Big Blue’s immediate prospects is the realization of that potential. Third-year player Dalvin Tomlinson, second-year talent B.J. Hill, and rookie Dexter Lawrence are expected to open the season atop the Giants’ D-line depth chart, as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, and the addition of Lawrence allows Tomlinson to slide into a traditional nose tackle spot, to which he is better-suited.
  • In a separate 2019 positional preview piece, Schwartz examines the Giants‘ tight end group, which is headed by Evan Engram. Engram had a disappointing start to 2018, his second professional season, but when Odell Beckham missed the final four games of the season, Engram excelled and finished with some positive momentum. Now that OBJ is in Cleveland, New York will need Engram to show more of the same in a crucial year for his development. The club’s second TE, Rhett Ellison, is a favorite of HC Pat Shurmur, while returnee Scott Simonson will have to hold off C.J. Conrad — a UDFA who impressed this spring — and former Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, another UDFA who is trying to make the club as a TE/gadget player.
  • Vic Carucci of BNBlitz.com says it’s possible that Bills GM Brandon Beane and LeSean McCoy have adamantly pushed the notion that McCoy will be the team’s starter in 2019 in order to generate some trade interest. After all, the club does have a large stable of RBs, and McCoy, a 2020 free agent, appears to be nearing the end of his career. But Carucci says he has heard nothing to indicate that Buffalo is seeking to trade McCoy.
  • In the same piece, Carucci says he believes Levi Wallace will start for the Bills at cornerback opposite TreDavious White.
  • In case you missed it, we heard this morning that Cowboys edge rusher Randy Gregory will be applying for reinstatement shortly.
  • Also from this morning: the Giants may deploy safety Jabrill Peppers as their primary punt returner.

East Notes: Harmon, Giants, Hauschka, Jets

Duron Harmon wasn’t connected to many teams during his first instance as an NFL free agent. Part of that may have stemmed from the fifth-year safety’s desire to stay with the Patriots. Although he’s only started 12 games in four years, Harmon received lower-end starter money from the defending Super Bowl champions.

Coming back to New England, that’s ultimately what I wanted to do. I love it here,” Harmon said via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “In the end, just coming back here really wasn’t a hard decision. It was something that I ultimately wanted to do.”

Part of that reasoning was a confidence the Bill Belichick– and Matt Patricia-led defense would deploy him best. He played as a nickel defender for most of last season, joining Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung in those looks. His $4.25MM AAV is tied for 35th in the league among safeties. The Dolphins emerged as a possible contender for Harmon’s second contract, but no indication came that Harmon turned down more money from another team.

That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come back, they know how to use me,” Harmon said, per Howe. “They know how to really get the best out of me and I want to continue to grow being a part of this defense.”

Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • Brandon Marshall‘s Giants cap charges will be $4.5MM in 2017 and $6.5MM in 2018, Dan Duggan of NJ.com reports. The 12th-year wide receiver will make a fully guaranteed $3MM this season. Marshall is due a nonguaranteed $5MM for 2018, which will be his age-34 season.
  • New York’s John Jerry re-up will see the veteran guard stand to earn a $925K fully guaranteed base salary in 2017 and have a ’17 cap hit of $1.75MM, per Duggan. Jerry will count $4.125MM against the 2018 cap, although only $925K of that is guaranteed — and that guarantee is for injury only. If Jerry is still on the Giants in 2019, he’ll have a $3.05MM base and a $4.125MM cap charge.
  • Rhett Ellison‘s four-year Giants pact has the tight end’s cap charges at $2.25MM (2017), $3.75MM (2018), $5.75MM (2019) and $6.25MM (2020), according to Duggan. Ellison’s $975K base salary this season is fully guaranteed, as is $2.025MM of his $2.475MM base salary for 2018.
  • New Bills kicker Steven Hauschka called the Seahawks’ decision to release him and replace him with Blair Walsh an “interesting” one. “I thought it was interesting that direction that they would go in,” Hauschka said, per Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “But I’m not really concerned about that anymore because my job’s just to go out there and kick and that really doesn’t have anything to do with me now. But, yeah, it was definitely an interesting move.” Hauschka will make $2.6MM from the Bills this season ($1.6MM base/$1MM signing bonus) after collecting $2.7MM from the Seahawks in 2016. Walsh will earn an $800K base and a $300K roster bonus in Seattle.
  • The Jets‘ decision not to pursue Colin Kaepernick is probably about more than just his quarterbacking acumen, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. We heard earlier today the Jets were not the team that nearly signed the 29-year-old passer, and Cimini connects the dots between owner Woody Johnson — a Republican fundraiser and recently nominated to become ambassador to Great Britain — and the likely media frenzy that would occur if Kaepernick played in New York as reasonable issues that are standing in the way of the Jets pushing to add the ex-49ers QB. The Jets have been connected to both Jay Cutler and Josh McCown.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Redskins, Evans, Cardinals

Tight end Rhett Ellison left the Vikings organization and signed a deal with the Giants last week. While the player cited his new team’s winning culture, his father indicated that he left Minnesota for other reasons.

Riki Ellison, a former NFL linebacker, sent out a Facebook post on Saturday night that blasted the Vikings for a “mentality of physical practices.” He noted that the number of free agent departures indicates “toxic leadership.”

“Do (free agents) think this program is going in the right direction and a Super Bowl contender or are they in a position to be another start-up, starting up from scratch?’’ the elder Ellison later told Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. “That’s why you see your veterans are leaving because they have to look at the future. They should be able to retain anybody they want.

“There is something going on, from my perspective. Why would people be leaving a brand-new facility (U.S. Bank Stadium)? They got the best facility in the world. … That’s just not a normal thing to happen.’’

So far this offseason, the Vikings have seen the departure of tackle Matt Kalil, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, wide receiver Charles Johnson, punter Jeff Locke, and linebacker Audie Cole with Jacksonville.

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

  • At one point, the Redskins may have had interest in free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, tweets ESPN.com’s John Keim. The market has been pretty quiet for the former second-rounder, who we ranked as the second-best free agent interior lineman. The team met with free agent lineman Bennie Logan last week.
  • Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans was excited about the team’s acquisition of receiver DeSean Jackson, and general manager Jason Licht made it clear to the player that his payday was coming (via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times on Twitter). “We have until May,” Licht said of the player’s impending fifth-year option. “Mike Evans hopefully is going to be here a long time.”
  • The Cardinals have been prioritizing compensatory picks when it comes to “losing and signing new free agents,” tweets Mike Jurecki of FoxSports910, adding that the organization is looking to build via the draft. Nick Korte of OverTheCap.com predicts the team will get three extra picks following the departures of Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson, and Marcus Cooper.

Giants To Sign Rhett Ellison

Rhett Ellison received interest from the Jaguars and Giants and opted for New York. The tight end signed a four-year deal worth $18MM, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. He will receive $8MM fully guaranteed at signing.

The Jaguars have outbid other suitors for big targets on Thursday but did not secure this mid-tier free agent, with the Giants agreeing to pay Ellison just less than $5MM per year. Both were interested in Ellison for around this price. Ellison, though, hasn’t proven too much in his career to date.

Operating as an auxiliary player in the Vikings’ offense behind Kyle Rudolph, Ellison has just 51 career catches in four seasons. Pro Football Focus graded him better as a blocker than receiver.

The Giants did not receive much from their tight ends last season, but Will Tye still snagged 48 passes for 398 yards. New York was also in on Martellus Bennett, who remains unsigned.

Giants, Jaguars Eyeing Rhett Ellison

The Giants and Jaguars are interested in tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison, who could be looking at a $5MM annual salary, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com and Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter links).Rhett Ellison

$5MM would represent a significant raise for Ellison, who re-signed with the Vikings in 2016 for just $1.75MM. Ellison, 28, has averaged just 10 receptions per season during his five-year run in Minnesota, so it’s certainly surprising that enough clubs’ interest would drive his price into the $5MM area. In 2016, Ellison appeared in 15 games but only secured 14 targets in the passing game.

The Giants are known to be interested in the tight end market, and have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Martellus Bennett and other free agents. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are on the hunt for a tight end after trading Julius Thomas to the Dolphins earlier this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Bruton, Soliai, M. Wallace

Here are specific details on several of the latest agreed-upon and signed contracts from around the NFL. All links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated…

NFC:

  • David Bruton, S (Washington): Three years, $9MM. $3.4MM guaranteed. $2.5MM signing bonus. $500K annual playing-time escalator in 2017 and 2018. $500K in incentives in 2018 (Twitter links via Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post).
  • Paul Soliai, DT (Panthers): Two years, $6.5MM. $3MM guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus. $740K in annual per-game active roster bonuses. $500K roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2017 league year (Twitter link).
  • Leodis McKelvin, CB (Eagles): Two years, $6.2MM. $3MM guaranteed. $500K signing bonus. $1.2MM bonus due on fifth day of 2017 league year. $100K Pro Bowl incentive. $350K playing-time incentive (Twitter link).
  • Cory Harkey, TE (Rams): Three years, $5.7MM. $2.5MM guaranteed. $500K roster bonus due on 10th day of 2016 league year. $500K roster bonus due in 2017, guaranteed for skill and injury (Twitter link).
  • Rolando McClain, LB (Cowboys): One year, $4MM. $750K signing bonus. $1.25MM base salary. $2MM in per-game roster bonuses. Up to $1MM in playing-time and playoff incentives (Twitter link).
  • Rhett Ellison, TE (Vikings): One year, $1.75MM. $100K signing bonus. $790K in per-game active roster bonuses. Up to $500K in incentives (Twitter link).
  • Chris Givens, WR (Eagles): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K signing bonus. $100K of $760K base salary is guaranteed (Twitter link via Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News).

AFC:

  • Mike Wallace, WR (Ravens): Two years, $11.5MM. $4.5MM signing bonus. $1MM roster bonus due on fifth day of 2017 league year. Option for second year to be exercised/declined prior to end of 2016 league year (Twitter links).
  • Matt Moore, QB (Dolphins): Two years, $3.55MM. $2.25MM guaranteed. $750K signing bonus. $1.25MM in annual incentives (Twitter link).
  • Sean Spence, LB (Titans): One year, $2.5MM. $500K signing bonus. $500K in per-game active roster bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Robert Turbin, RB (Colts): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K in incentives for rushing yards (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).

Vikings Re-Sign Rhett Ellison

11:37am: Ellison’s new one-year deal with the Vikings is worth $2.25MM, per Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link).

10:39am: The Vikings have announced a pair of signings, via a press release, confirming their previously-reported agreement with defensive back Marcus Sherels and revealing that they’ve also struck a deal with tight end Rhett Ellison.Rhett Ellison

Ellison, 27, has spent the last four seasons in Minnesota, having been selected by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. As the No. 2 option at tight end behind Kyle Rudolph, Ellison enjoyed his best year in 2014, when Rudolph was limited to nine games — in that season, Ellison caught a career-high 19 balls for 208 yards and a touchdown.

Primarily though, Ellison serves as a blocker, as was the case in 2015. Although he appeared in nearly 500 offensive snaps last season, he recorded just 11 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown.

Ellison will be looking to return from a torn patellar tendon that landed him on injured reserve at the end of the 2015 season, keeping him out of action for Minnesota’s Wild Card game in January.

Details on Sherels and his new deal can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Vikings, Weddle, Steelers

The Vikings are negotiating to bring back tight end Rhett Ellison, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). If Ellison can’t be retained, however, one option to replace him might be free agent James Hanna, formerly of the Cowboys, a source tells Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).

Here’s a look at some of the latest news and rumors on this crazy day of action:

  • Terence Newman is also a Vikings free agent, and the club will talk to his agent once again later tonight or tomorrow, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Wolfson also says that Minnesota did not show interest in guard Jeff Allen, as Alex Boone was their target all along.
  • The Steelers like veteran safety Eric Weddle, a source tells Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (Twitter link), but the club thinks he’s too expensive at the moment. Pittsburgh is hoping Weddle’s price falls.
  • Free agent offensive lineman Ted Larsen will take a visit with the 49ers, tweets Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
  • The Bears are not done looking for free agent offensive lineman, even after agreeing to a deal with Bobby Massie, reports Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link).
  • Texans restricted free agent corner A.J. Bouye is drawing interest from other clubs, but no offer sheet is yet on the table, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Bouye was tendered at the lowest level, so Houston won’t get any compensation if it fails to match an offer.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/7/16

Today’s minor signings, cuts, and other moves from around the NFL:

  • The Vikings put tight end Rhett Ellison on IR, promoted defensive end B.J. DuBose from the practice squad, and signed Toby Johnson to the practice squad, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Bengals put defensive tackle Brandon Thompson on IR with a knee injury and promoted defensive tackle DeShawn Williams to the 53-man roster, as Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.
  • The Panthers signed defensive end Wes Horton to the practice squad, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. Horton was suspended by the league for four games this year for violating the substance abuse policy.

NFC Rumors: Manning, Brees, Cowboys

The Giants could be in store for major changes this winter and spring, but quarterback Eli Manning hopes that the offense remains the same, as Ebenezer Samuel of the Daily News writes.

Yep, of course,” Manning said when asked whether he wants the offense to remain in tact for 2016. “I feel very comfortable in the offense. We scored a lot of points, we were competitive in most of the games and I thought we had a great game plan. I think with the guys we have and add a few guys, we can be a strong offense.”

Manning threw for a career-best 35 touchdowns this season, along with 4,436 yards, the second-highest total of his career. He didn’t commit to speaking to the front office about his feelings on the system, but he didn’t rule it out, either.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • When asked if he would be amenable if the Saints came to him to talk about a contract extension for this year, Drew Brees said, “absolutely” (Twitter link via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com). Brees is due a $30MM cap hold as he enters the final year of the five-year, $100MM deal he inked in 2012.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee missed the team’s season finale and his absence appears to have cost him a possible $2MM escalator bonus for the 2016 season, as Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram writes. Lee had to play in 80% of snaps this season in order to bump his $3MM base salary to $5MM. Lee said after the game that the decision was his and that he felt trying to force things wouldn’t have helped his team.
  • Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison tore his patellar tendon and he is done for the 2015 season, according to coach Mike Zimmer (Twitter link via Ben Goessling of ESPN.com)
  • Bears linebacker Shea McClellin is slated to hit the open market but he says that he would “love” to be back if the team will have him, Patrick Finley of the Sun Times writes. McClellin added that he wants to stay at inside linebacker, wherever he goes. McClellin played in 12 games, starting 11, in his first year at inside linebacker.