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Giants 2021 roster profile: TE Cole Hikutini

Can journeyman find an NFL home with the Giants?

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills
Cole Hikutini in a 2019 preseason game for the Minnesota Vikings.
Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Giants would seem to be set at tight end with the quartet of Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo. Journeyman Cole Hikutini is one of a group of tight ends hoping to crack through that group, or at least earn a spot on the practice squad.

Let’s take a closer look at Hikutini as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 240
Age: 27
Position: Tight end
Experience: 4
Contract: One-year, $780,000 | Guaranteed: $0 | 2021 cap hit: $780,000

Career to date

Hikutini was once a hotly-sought after undrafted free agent following a 50-catch season for the Louisville Cardinals in 2016.

After receiving a full-court press from the team, Hikutini signed with the San Francisco 49ers. He played in three games as a rookie, catching two passes for 15 yards. He finished the season on IR with a knee injury, just a year after suffering another knee injury at Louisville. in the team’s season-ending Bowl game.

He has not played a snap in a regular-season game since.

Hikutini spent 2018 on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, and the last two seasons on the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants signed him in March after Dallas cut him.

2021 outlook

There is something about Hikutini that NFL teams like. Otherwise, the Cowboys wouldn’t have kept him for two years and teams like the Giants would not continue to provide him with opportunities.

Whether the knee injuries took something away from him, or whether he is one of those almost, but not quite good enough players I just don’t know.

Hikutini would seem to be competing with Kelvin Benjamin, Rysen John and Nakia Griffin-Stewart to find a way onto the roster should an injury occur or the Giants decide to keep an extra tight end.

Considering that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is familiar with Hikutini from their time together with Dallas in 2019, this might be Hikutini’s last best chance to be more than an NFL practice squad body.