Ellington began 2018 with the Houston Texans before being waived on Oct. 31 off of injured reserve following a hamstring injury. The Detroit Lions picked him up, and Ellington caught 23 balls for 132 yards in four games to finish the season.
Ellington is just 27 years old, but injuries have limited his production in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers drafted Ellington in the fourth round out of South Carolina in 2014. Ellington played in 26 games for the Niners, catching just 19 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
He lost all of 2016 to a hamstring tear before landing with the Texans in 2017. His hamstring has been such an issue that Ellington told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he had one of the three muscles making up his left hamstring surgically removed.
The Patriots historically love figuring out how to make players discarded by the rest of the league into playmakers who excel within their system.
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson became the latest example last season. Patterson was used as a receiver, running back and returner by the Patriots last season. The Chicago Bears signed Patterson to a two-year, $10 million contract as a free agent, which leaves more room for Ellington.
Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston noted that the Patriots' signing of Ellington continues a trend of nabbing players who have appeared with another team in joint practices with New England:
Harris, meanwhile, spent the last three seasons in Washington. During that stretch, he tallied 40 receptions for 432 yards and one touchdown. Last year, he logged career highs in receptions (28) and receiving yards (304).
The Patriots are rarely—if ever—splashy in free agency, but they are always strategic. It will be interesting to see how head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels choose to incorporate Ellington and Harris in 2019.
The duo will join receivers Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett along with running back Sony Michel and tight end Rob Gronkowski as weapons for quarterback Tom Brady.