Rhett Ellison may have never been a dominating player during his career, but that doesn’t mean the tight end wasn’t important for the New York Giants. He backed up Evan Engram, but since Engram isn’t the most reliable player and has missed time over the past couple of seasons with injury, and hasn’t always played the best when he is on the field and healthy, backup tight end has been a somewhat relevant position for the Giants over recent years.
It’s one of the primary reasons why Rhett Ellison started 12 games in 2018 and 7 in 2019 – during both seasons, the Giants had big expectations for Engram, who let down in both of them with 8 and 6 starts respectively and three touchdowns on the year both times.
The Giants also released Scott Simonson this offseason, removing from the roster a player who was seen at times when neither Ellison or Engram were on the field.
The fact that there’s no Simonson on the team now makes Ellison’s retirement due to concussion hit the Giants’ tight end room harder – in 2020, if they don’t add anyone else, they’ll have to rely on Evan Engram and Kaden Smith. The latter only joined the team in 2019 and had the same amount of touchdowns as Engram in less games. He could be a game changer, but it’s hard to know. We don’t have a sample size, and other teams will have more film on Smith this year.
The other player is Evan Engram. Despite being eternally promising, we have yet to see Engram repeat his rookie season. It was hard for Engram to even stay on the field last season with injury trouble hitting him hard, which is why it was somewhat strange that the Giants have shown a commitment in keeping him instead of moving on before it’s too late to get something good in return.
Assuming the Giants don’t add anyone else to their roster, they’ll have to go into this season with just Engram and Smith as their main options, and will just have to deal with the inconsistency of the former and the inexperience of the latter. Of course, Smith was promising in the games he did play last year – this could be a great chance for a step forward for him.
But the Giants don’t have Ellison waiting in reserve to fill in for either player if they can’t perform to standard or if injury strikes once again for Engram – and that might have a bigger impact than Ellison’s numbers would suggest.