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Giants’ 90-man roster: TE Rhett Ellison is steady, but could find himself on the roster bubble

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Expensive contract could leave veteran tight end vulnerable

Washington Redskins v New York Giants
Rhett Ellison runs with the ball.
Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

His two seasons with the New York Giants have been the most productive of Rhett Ellison’s seven-year NFL career. What is in store for the veteran tight end in 2019? Let’s discuss as we continue looking at the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 255
Age: 30
Position: Tight end
Experience: 8

2018 season in review

Ellison set career highs in catches (25), yards receiving (272) and yards receiving per game (19.4). Those topped the previous career-bests of 24, 235 and 14.7 he established with the Giants in 2017. He has become a reliable underneath target for Eli Manning in the Giants’ passing attack.

The Giants utilized 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) 24 percent of the time in 2018, more than all but five other teams. Ellison was nearly always part of that package, with Evan Engram when Engram was healthy and with Scott Simonson the rest of the time. He played 557 snaps, the second straight year in which he was on the field for more than 500 snaps with the Giants’ offense.

2019 outlook

At first glance, Ellison’s role shouldn’t be much different than it has been the past two seasons. A reliable blocker and underneath option in the passing game. A solid, quiet presence in the locker room.

But ...

Ellison is in the third year of a four-year, $18 million contract. That is fairly exorbitant for his steady, but modest, production. Could Ellison actually be a player on the roster bubble entering training camp?

Simonson, a similar but less experienced player, was re-signed to an inexpensive one-year, $805K contract. What is they are really impressed during training camp or the preseason by second-year man Garrett Dickerson or undrafted free agent C.J. Conrad? Or if undrafted free agent Eric Dungey excels in the hybrid quarterback/tight end role in which the Giants have given him an opportunity.

The Giants could save $4.5 million against the cap this season and $5 million in 2020 while taking on only $1.25 million in dead money each year by making Ellison a post-June 1 cut. That’s not a prediction, but it is something to keep in mind.