Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Ebner was a sixth-round pick of the Patriots in 2012 despite playing only two years of football at Ohio State because of his focus on rugby. Even while under contract with the Pats in 2016, Ebner was part of Team USA in rugby sevens at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The Giants are a logical fit for Ebner since new head coach Joe Judge was a special teams assistant in New England from 2012-14 and the Patriots’ special teams coordinator from 2015-19.
Ebner, 31, spent eight seasons in New England, appearing in 111 regular-season games and 16 playoff contests. During his tenure, he won three Super Bowls under head coach Bill Belichick and the guidance of Judge.
Despite spending almost all of his time on special teams, Ebner has 95 career regular-season tackles. He has been one of the best special teamers in the NFL throughout his career, but he was often overshadowed by eight-time Pro Bowler Matthew Slater in New England.
Injuries have been a bit of an issue for Ebner, as he has only appeared in all 16 games in a season once, but he has missed two or fewer games in a season six times, so most of his injuries haven’t been serious.
While the Patriots re-signed Slater this season, Ebner figures to be a huge loss on special teams for a New England franchise that has taken it on the chin in free agency.
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In addition to Ebner, the Patriots have lost quarterback Tom Brady, linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Jamie Collins, defensive lineman Danny Shelton and center Ted Karras. They also traded safety Duron Harmon to the Detroit Lions.
After dominating the AFC East for nearly two decades and winning the division each of the past 11 years and 16 of the past 17, the Patriots’ dynasty could be nearing its conclusion.
Meanwhile, Judge is trying to build a winning culture in New York, and Ebner is the type of player who can help in that regard.
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