Rhett Ellison flirted with the free agent market, but in the end, found his way home to the Minnesota Vikings. As announced on the team’s official website, the fifth-year tight end re-signed with the Vikings on Tuesday morning. The Vikings also made the Marcus Sherels re-signing official, as the punt returner and special teams ace reportedly returned to the team late last week after visiting the New York Jets.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) March 15, 2016
Sherels signed a two-year, $4 million ($1.5 million guaranteed) deal to remain in Minnesota, and he’ll have zero guaranteed money after the 2016 season. Ellison, who is recovering from a torn patellar tendon suffered in Week 17 last year, reportedly signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract.
As the second-string tight end behind Kyle Rudolph, Ellison caught 11 passes for 124 yards last season, scoring one touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in Week 10. In his four-year career, he’s started 35 games for the Vikings, totaling 42 receptions for 458 yards and 3 touchdowns while contributing 25 tackles on special teams.
More than his abilities as a receiver, Ellison is a do-it-all contributor for the Vikings. He plays on nearly every special teams unit, lines up at multiple positions in multiple offensive formations, and helped block for the league’s leading rusher in 2015, Adrian Peterson. Despite the serious knee injury, Ellison is expected to make a full return for training camp this July, per Chris Tomasson.
“He should be full go by training camp,’’ said Riki Ellison, Rhett’s father. “He’s ahead of schedule in terms of flexibility and all his measurements.’’ Last week, Riki posted to Facebook and proclaimed that his son would not be re-signing with the Vikings. The message was quickly removed, and Riki told Tomasson that the Vikings had “underestimated” Rhett’s value.
The ploy to increase Rhett’s value apparently worked, as the Vikings came back to the negotiating table with a number much higher than their original offer. If Ellison can make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form, he gives the Vikings incredible depth at tight end. With Kyle Rudolph, MyCole Pruitt, and a healthy Ellison, Minnesota has three players who can make a difference from a number of spots on the field.