BOSTON — Nate Ebner has spent his entire eight-year NFL career in New England. And he has no desire to leave.
Ebner, who is set to hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year opens March 18, said Wednesday he hopes to re-sign with the Patriots.
“I mean, that would be the best thing, I think, when you consider my entire career has been here,” the special teams standout said at an event announcing his and fellow Patriots safety Patrick Chung’s minority ownership stakes in the New England Free Jacks, a Major League Rugby franchise that recently kicked off its debut season. “I understand how things go. I’ve got some true friendships here.
“I understand how things work — that would be great. But right now, it’s out of my hands, so we’ll see what happens and I’ll just take it as it goes. We’ll see.”
Ebner, one of 19 impending New England free agents, has been with the Patriots since they drafted him in the sixth round out of Ohio State in 2012. The 31-year-old has won three Super Bowls with the team and earned a second-team All-Pro selection in 2016. This season, he appeared in 14 games, tying Matthew Slater and Brandon Bolden for the team lead with seven special teams tackles while ranking third in special teams snaps.
A former rugby star and 2016 Olympian, Ebner also said he hasn’t ruled out pursuing a Major League Rugby career once his NFL days are over. One of Ebner’s ex-Patriots teammates, Joey Iosefa, currently plays for the MLR’s Seattle Seawolves.
“I could definitely envision it if my body was OK with it,” Ebner said. “I’ll play rugby at some capacity, even if it’s touch rugby on weekends with a club team or whatever to playing on an MLR team. I don’t know at what capacity, but (rugby) is in my blood. I grew up with it before really anything else, and it will always be a part of me.”
Ebner’s last Patriots contract, signed in 2018, was a two-year deal worth $5 million.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images