The New York Giants announced the signing of free agent tight end and fullback Rhett Ellison to a four-year, $18 million contract on Thursday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Ellison, a 2012 fourth round draft pick, spent his first five seasons out of college with the Minnesota Vikings, where he owns 51 receptions for 515 yards, three touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown. Not only does Ellison prove himself to be a good target at the tight end position, but at blocking as well. Ellison has made a name for himself as one of the best blocking tight ends in the entire league, something that does help compensate for the Giants offensive line. Signing with the Giants was a no-brainer for Ellison.
“There were a few teams that were interested, but this was the one team that had exactly what I was looking for,” said Ellison. “I want an opportunity to win a Super Bowl, I want to be a part of a winning tradition, so that’s what separated the Giants from everyone else. It was an easy and fast decision for me when the Giants came to the table.”
“Rhett is a versatile, hard-nosed player who we feel is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league,” said Giants general manager Jerry Reese. “He also has good hands and is a very capable receiver in the pass game.”
An interesting fact about Ellison is that his family has a background in New Zealand rugby. New Zealand rugby is notorious for its hard-nosed, bruiser style, and Ellison’s family has a long history of being involved in. His father, Riki, was the first New Zealander to play in the NFL, where he won three Super Bowl Championships in his ten year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Raiders. In rugby, Ellison’s great-grandfather played for the All-Blacks rugby team, while Ellison’s great-uncle, Tom Ellison, was the first All Blacks captain for the team.
“There’s a lot of ruby in the blood and I’ve always had an appreciation for the technique, the attention to detail, and the humility that the guys play with. It’s a hooligan sport played by gentlemen. It’s just kind of always been in the bloodline. I never got a chance to play it but it’s just part of our family tradition.”
Ellison studied film of tight ends when entering the NFL. One that he studied the most, was former Giants tight end Bear Pascoe, who he felt was the most similar to his play style.
“That was what my role kind of was at USC, which was a lot of the dirty work,” said Ellison. “The current special teams coach [at USC] John Baxter he was at Fresno State with Pascoe and had a lot of his film…I asked for the film and checked it out and he did exactly what I did. It was one of the few guys that I could learn from and watch because there are not a lot of those guys out there that do it at the level he did. That’s how I studied him.”
The Giants are in that win-now mentality, and the need for a quality tight end, who can also block, was a main priority for the Giants. Ellison played a major factor in running back Adrian Peterson eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards in three seasons, including 2,097 rushing yards in his 2012 MVP season. The fact that Ellison was a contributor to Peterson’s MVP season, it raises some eyebrows, especially considering that Peterson is a free agent. The one question that needed to be asked: Is Ellison recruiting Peterson to the Giants?
“He hasn’t told me anything yet,” said Ellison. Of course, it would be great to have him with the Giants, but he hasn’t told me. He has his own family to thing about and what he wants to do. He’s a great player, great guy, great work ethic, and it was a lot of fun to block for him.”
With the Giants running game faltering last season, the more blocking the better. Ellison does possess the skill to help block for the offensive line, which in turn can help the running game pick up. Not only that, Eli Manning has an additional target, along with Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard. Ellison provides the skill to be the Giants secret weapon, and he is willing to contribute in any way to help the team.
“My whole M.O. is just whatever they need me to do and I’m going to do it,” said Ellison. “Blocking catching, whatever it takes. Whatever is going to help this team be successful is what I’ll be doing.”