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NFL Free Agency 2017: New York Giants sign TE/FB Rhett Ellison

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The Giants add their blocking tight end

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants struck quickly to start free agency and have made their second signing of the 2017 free agency period. The first, of course was the splashy acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

NFL Insider Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Giants have signed now former Minnesota Viking Rhett Ellison to a 4-year, $18 million contract.

Mike Garafolo originally hinted at the Giants’ interest in the 28-year-old tight end and full back earlier on Thursday.

The Giants use their tight ends as both an in-line blocker and a lead blocker from the backfield, a role they had signed Will Johnson for last year. Ellison signifies a commitment on the Giants’ part to improve their running game, and the 6-foot-5, 250 pound Ellison has experience in a similar role in the Vikings’ run-heavy offense. The signing Ellison might mean that Johnson, under contract for 2017 after being on IR with a burner last year, won’t be back.

In 141 run-blocking snaps last season, Ellison earned a 62.5 score from Pro Football Focus.

Ellison has a total of 51 receptions for 515 yards and 3 touchdowns in his five seasons with Minnesota — a career high of 19 receptions in 2014. In all likelihood this will not influence the possibility that the Giants add a better receiving option at tight end in the draft.

At least one Giant is already on board with the signing.