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New York Giants sign TE Rhett Ellison

Posted Mar 10, 2017

The Giants have signed Free Agent TE Rhett Ellison:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – For Rhett Ellison, joining the Giants is a case of better late than never.

Before the 2012 NFL Draft, Ellison visited the Giants and hoped the team would select him. But the Minnesota Vikings did, in the fourth round, and Ellison spent five years with the team. This year, Ellison became a free agent and got a second chance to join the Giants. This time, the two sides took advantage of the opportunity to reach an accord.

“It just kind of came together at the right time,” Ellison said on his first visit to the Giants’ locker room in the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. “It was unbelievable. It was cool to see that they were still following and still keeping an eye on me, and still wanted me to come here. It was the best-case scenario.”

For both sides. Ellison, 6-5 and 250 pounds, is a super blocking tight end/fullback who can also be a reliable target for Eli Manning.

>> 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ELLISON

“Rhett is a versatile, hardnosed player who we feel is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “He also has good hands and is a very capable receiver in the pass game.”

Ellison is the second offensive skill player to join the Giants this week. On Wednesday, Brandon Marshall, who has 941 career catches, was added to a corps of wide receivers that includes Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Ellison is thrilled to join a team with a proven quarterback and outstanding receivers.

“I haven’t had an opportunity to be part of a team like this,” Ellison said. “I can already tell the culture is a whole different thing here. It’s a family. Everybody is all-in from the G.M. to the dishwasher. I can already feel the family here.”

Ellison was a proficient blocker as both a tight end and a fullback and helped Adrian Peterson rush for more than 1,000 yards three times, including 2,097 yards in his MVP season in 2012.

“That’s a big part of what I do,” Ellison said. “It started as a survival thing at USC, where that was the only way I was getting on the field. That was the pride of my game, being physical, being in the right spot, being a technician, and just effort. In the run game, it’s all about effort.”

At USC, Ellison was a teammate of Giants linebacker Devon Kennard.

“I had a lot of battles with him,” Ellison said. “He’s a strong dude, so it’s going to be fun to compete with him again. I think we definitely made each other better in college. He’s one of my favorite guys.”

In Minnesota, Ellison played in 73 regular-season games with 41 starts in five seasons. He caught 51 passes for 515 yards, with a long reception of 41 yards, and three touchdowns.

In 2016, Ellison played in 15 games with six starts after recovering from surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon. He caught nine passes for 57 yards, and did not score a touchdown for the first time since his rookie season. Ellison’s most productive receiving season was in 2014, when he played in all 16 games, starting 13, and had career-high totals of 19 catches for 208 yards.

>> WATCH HIGHLIGHTS OF FREE AGENTS

“Whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m all for it,” he said.

At USC, was a First-Team All-Pac 12 selection as a special teamer as a senior. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations in 2011, and a master’s degree in communication management in 2013.

After five years in Minnesota, Ellison is happy to be back in the big city.

“This is the bigger city,” he said. “USC was the warmup. This will be quite a culture shock compared to Minnesota, but I’m excited about it.”

Ellison’s father, Riki – the first native New Zealander to play in the NFL - was a three-time Super Bowl champ who had a 10-year NFL career as a linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers (1983-89) and the Los Angeles Raiders (1990-92).

“He’s excited,” Ellison said. “He wants me to have an opportunity to win a Super Bowl. And he couldn’t be more excited. He had some run-ins with the Giants back in his career. Oddly enough, they were one of his least-favorite teams, because they had some losses to them in the playoffs.  Now he’s a big Giants fan. He’s already asking for all the gear.”