Rhett Ellison came as advertised when the Giants signed him prior to the 2017 season. He provided steady blocking, occasional pass-catching production and consistent professionalism at tight end, making himself a favorite of every coach he worked with. Ellison was beset by concussion issues in 2019 and on Monday announced his retirement.
Ellison, 31, missed the final six games this past season while in the concussion protocol. He finished his eight-year NFL career with 118 receptions for 1,189 yards and seven touchdowns. In three years with the Giants, Ellison had 67 catches for 674 yards and four touchdowns.
Evan Engram, coming off foot surgery and at 26 the oldest tight end of the roster, called Ellison “definitely the best teammate I ever had.’’
The Giants are light at tight end. After Engram, there is Kaden Smith, who was impressive as a rookie pickup last season, Garrett Dickerson and C.J. Conrad.
Ellison said the past few weeks have “kind of been an emotional rollercoaster’’ as he contemplated his next move. He said his overwhelming feeling is “gratitude.’’ Ellison spent the first five years of his NFL career with the Vikings.
He suffered a concussion in the Week 10 loss to the Jets and that ended up being his final game.
“In the back of my head, there’s always that, ‘I get it, this could be my last game,’ just because of the nature of the sport,” Ellison said. “When I ruptured my patella tendon [in 2016], that was the first time I realized, ‘Oh wait, this can end at any moment.’ Since that injury, it’s kind of stuck with me, like, ‘Don’t take these games for granted. Don’t take these opportunities for granted.’ ’’
Ellison’s father, Riki, as a linebacker was a three-time Super Bowl winner with the 49ers.