Giants’ star tight end could be headed toward injured reserve

New York Giants tight end Darren Waller (12) gets out of bounds before being hit by Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (7) in the fourth quarter at Highmark Stadium
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are anticipating the return of Daniel Jones in Week 9, and with the impending comeback of both Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal, the team’s offense is looking to make significant strides.

Setback with Waller’s Injury

However, their progress has been marred by the loss of star tight end Darren Waller due to a hamstring injury. Waller’s injury occurred after playing only 17 snaps against the New York Jets, and it marks his most significant setback this season, creating a dilemma for the Giants as they approach the activation of Waller’s three-year, $51 million contract extension after the 2023 season.

Contractual Decisions Ahead

Should the Giants retain Waller, he will account for $14.45 million against the salary cap in 2024. The team has the option to exit the contract, which would result in $7.8 million in dead money. Waller’s salary is set to increase in subsequent years, raising concerns over the value of investing in a player with a history of injuries.

As the Giants head to Las Vegas, Waller is expected to stay behind in New York, with speculations that he may be placed on injured reserve—sidelining him for at least four weeks. This season, Waller has amassed 383 yards and one touchdown, showcasing his best performance in Week 7 against the Washington Commanders.

During Waller’s absence, the team is likely to look towards Daniel Bellinger, a second-year player from San Diego State, to increase his receiving contributions. There’s also the possibility of re-signing Lawrence Cager to fill the void left by Waller.

Jones has had difficulties connecting with Waller even when both were active, and the Giants’ pass protection has been unreliable. As a result, receivers such as Wan’Dale Robinson may see more action, particularly in shorter field scenarios.

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