New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell may be forced to retire from football early due to a neck injury, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.
The Giants tight end missed the last eight games of the 2015 season with a neck issue, and despite feeling no pain, his MRI has not come back clean. While reports have surfaced that the injury could end his career, the Giants are hopeful that he will be able to return but are taking "extreme precaution," according to Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News.
"He's coming back and hopefully he'll be able to continue to play," general manager Jerry Reese said. "We're expecting him to be back, but necks can be tricky, so we'll have to wait and see where that goes... Hopefully he can get healthy and come back and continue his career."
While reports have surfaced that the injury could force an early retirement for the Giants tight end, differing reports have said that the injury is not a "career concern," according to Samuel. The Giants tight end had developed into a viable starting option in New York through three seasons and was coming off a strong season in 2014, in which he recorded 63 receptions for 623 yards and scored six touchdowns without missing a game.
Through eight games this season, Donnell recorded 29 receptions for 223 yards and scored two touchdowns, and he was on his way to solidifying himself as the Giants starting tight end. The Giants have some major decisions to make this offseason regarding the tight end position as Donnell and three other tight ends on the Giants roster are schedule to become free agents this offseason.
Donnell is a restricted free agent, and tight end Daniel Fells is reportedly unlikely to play football again after a MRSA infection this past season. Reese has said that tight end Will Tye will be a "big piece" for the Giants at the tight end position, and Tye proved himself a legitimate option down the stretch of this past season.
The Giants are hopeful that they will be able to re-sign a healthy Donnell this offseason, but don't be surprised if they are in the market for a tight end this offseason, as they likely will look to acquire a tight end either through the draft or free agency.