Rhett Ellison

Giants TE Rhett Ellison To Retire

Shortly after news emerged that Rhett Ellison was considering retirement, the Giants tight end will follow through. Ellison announced his retirement Monday. He played eight NFL seasons.

The 31-year-old blocking tight end saw his 2019 season end because of a concussion, and that setback led to this announcement. Ellison was under contract for the 2020 season, at a career-high $4.9MM base salary, but will step away from the game instead.

Ellison signed a four-year, $18MM deal with the Giants in 2017 and played in 40 games with the team. He spent his first four seasons with the Vikings, arriving in Minnesota as a 2012 fourth-round pick. Ellison caught 118 passes for 1,189 yards and seven touchdowns in his 113-game career, working alongside Kyle Rudolph and then Evan Engram.

A USC alum, Ellison posted a career-high 272 receiving yards in 2018. Ellison helped the Giants during Engram’s latest injury-marred season, but the concussion he sustained resulted in the Giants finishing the season without their top two tight ends.

The Giants have Engram under contract through 2020 but can control him through 2021 via the fifth-year option. They have been linked to Jason Witten, whom new OC Jason Garrett coached for nine seasons in Dallas, but nothing on that front has emerged in weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rhett Ellison Considering Retirement

Giants tight end Rhett Ellison is under contract through the 2020 season, but the 31-year-old is mulling retirement, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post reports. Ellison missed the final six games of the 2019 campaign due to a concussion, and it’s that injury that is making him consider calling it quits.

Ellison has always been deployed primarily as a blocking TE, and he has averaged just under 150 receiving yards per season in his eight-year career. But he excels in that role, and he generally catches the passes that are thrown to him. Plus, with the Giants’ top tight end, Evan Engram, still in a walking boot and Scott Simonson a free agent, Big Blue doesn’t have much certainty at the position.

Kaden Smith has some upside, and the club has been connected to Jason Witten, but Ellison serves a valuable role and would be missed if he hangs up the cleats. If he does choose to come back, however, Dunleavy suggests he may be a restructure candidate.

After all, he is due a $4.97MM salary in 2020, which is probably too rich. It seems as though player and team would be able to come to terms on a pay cut if Ellison wants to continue his playing career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/27/19

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

  • Promoted from practice squad: LB Anthony Pittman

Indianapolis Colts

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Redskins

Giants QB Daniel Jones Ruled Out, Eli Manning To Start

The Giants announced this morning that starting quarterback Daniel Jones has been ruled out for Monday’s game against the Eagles. This means Eli Manning will get the start for New York.

We heard rumblings earlier this week that Manning could get the start for the Giants. Jones was continuing to recover from a mild high-ankle sprain, and the injury was expected to knock the rookie out of the lineup.

So in comes Manning, who will get his (presumable) farewell tour with the organization. It was clear that the 38-year-old’s time with the organization was coming to an end when they selected Jones with the sixth-overall pick in this past year’s draft. The veteran got a pair of starts for the Giants before giving way to the 22-year-old, who has started the last 10 games.

Manning hasn’t seen the field since that Week 2 start against the Bills. Up to that point of the season, Manning had completed 62.9% of his passes for 556 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. However, in 2018, the 38-year-old raised his completion rate to a career-high 66%, and his 7.5 yards-per-attempt average was considerably higher than it was in the previous two seasons. He also dropped his interceptions total (11) to the lowest its been during his 14 seasons a full-time starter.

Manning will now have an opportunity to show teams that he’s still capable of playing in the NFL. The veteran says he plans on playing through at least the 2020 season, but it’s unlikely to be with the Giants. His $23.2MM salary limited his trade appeal this year – and Manning wouldn’t have waived his no-trade clause, anyway – but there figure to be many QB-needy teams speaking with the future Hall of Famer in March.

Jones won’t be the only Giants player missing Monday’s game. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets that tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion), as well as cornerback Corey Ballentine (concussion), have also been ruled out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Cooper, Kerrigan, Giants

Amari Cooper left the Cowboys‘ Thanksgiving Day game because of a knee injury, but it appears the wide receiver avoided a significant setback. An MRI Cooper underwent Friday revealed no structural damage in the knee, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes. The Cowboys do not have a 10-day break, set for a Thursday-night game in Week 14 in Chicago, but Cooper looks to have avoided a multi-game injury. That will obviously be pivotal to a 6-6 team vying for the NFC East title with the 5-6 Eagles.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Giants announced they have designated outside linebacker Kareem Martin to return from IR. A 2018 free agent signing, Martin played only in Week 1 this season. The former Cardinal has rehabbed from a knee injury and will soon be set to make it three ex-Cardinals among the Giants’ linebacking corps. New York has seen Markus Golden stand out on his one-year deal, and Big Blue added ex-Arizona first-rounder Deone Bucannon during Martin’s IR stay.
  • Evan Engram will miss his third straight game. After being declared out, the Giants’ third-year tight end will miss his 11th career game. The Ole Miss product is dealing with a mid-foot sprain. Engram was playing well prior to this injury. The Giants must decide on the 2017 first-rounder’s fifth-year option by early May. Blocking tight end Rhett Ellison will also miss New York’s 12th game, leaving the 2-9 team without much of note at this position.
  • Long out of playoff contention, the Redskins are playing only for evaluation and draft position at this point. A player the team does not need to evaluate, though, will miss his first NFL game. Ryan Kerrigan‘s 139-game streak will come to an end because of a concussion, Bill Callahan said Friday. Washington’s top edge rusher has posted double-digit sacks in each of the past three seasons but will have a tougher time running that streak to four with this news. The ninth-year outside linebacker is sitting on 4.5 sacks after 11 games.
  • The Eagles gave kicker Jake Elliott a five-year extension, keeping the former Bengals practice squad leg tied to Philadelphia’s roster through the 2025 season.

Giants Sign TE Scott Simonson

The Giants have signed tight end Scott Simonson, as Matt Lombardo of NJ.com reports. New York will have its bye this week, but Simonson, 27, may have a chance to see plenty of action when Big Blue returns to the field against the Bears in Week 12.

Fellow tight end Rhett Ellison entered the concussion protocol on Monday, per Lombardo, and Evan Engram is dealing with a foot injury that sidelined him for Sunday’s game against the Jets. So while Simonson is lauded more for his run-blocking abilities than his receiving skills, he could be called on to do a little bit more in the short-term.

Simonson appeared in all 16 games for the Giants in 2018, catching nine passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. New York re-signed him in early 2019, but he suffered a high ankle sprain in this year’s preseason finale and was ultimately released with an injury settlement. This week was the earliest he was eligible to sign with any club, and the injury fortunes of New York’s other TEs worked to his advantage.

In addition to the Simonson signing, the Giants announced a series of practice squad moves. They signed WR Alex Bachman, TE Garrett Dickerson, and LS Colin Holba to the taxi squad and released WR Reggie White Jr. and DL Freedom Akinmoladun from the squad.

Giants Rework Rhett Ellison’s Deal

The Giants had to do some cap adjusting before acquiring Leonard Williams from the Jets. This week, they got it done by converting $1.88MM of tight end Rhett Ellison‘s base salary into a signing bonus,, a source tells ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). That bit of cap trickery

That bit of cap trickery gave the Giants an additional $938K in space, giving them just enough to accommodate the arrival of Williams. Still, their cap situation remains tight. Before bringing the defensive lineman over from New Jersey’s other team, the Giants had roughly $2MM in cap room. The Jets picked up the tab on $4MM of Williams’ $7.5MM in remaining salary, so the Giants had to make way for about $3.5MM in salary.

By tweaking Ellison’s contract and releasing linebacker Tae Davis, the Giants got the job done, but their work isn’t finished.

Ellison, 31, has 13 catches for 108 yards and one touchdown through eight games. The bulk of the tight end targets have gone to youngster Evan Engram, who has 38 grabs for 419 yards and three scores this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.