Giants have two tight ends competing for the starting role in 2024

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Dec 11, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants tight end Daniel Bellinger (82) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles safety K'Von Wallace (42) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are likely to be without tight end Darren Waller this season as he seems to be leaning towards retiring. The loss of Waller will result in an influx of salary cap space for Big Blue, however, it will also create a hole in the starting offensive lineup.

Waller’s absence from the lineup will create an opportunity for a pair of young tight ends to ascend into larger roles this season. Third-year tight end Daniel Bellinger could see the greatest increase in usage this season as he potentially embarks on a breakout 2024 campaign.

Daniel Bellinger should see far more playing time in 2024

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New York Giants tight end Daniel Bellinger (82) on the field for day two of mandatory minicamp at the Giants training center on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in East Rutherford. Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

Bellinger is entering his third season in the NFL after being drafted by Big Blue in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Bellinger showed promise before suffering a fracture to his face that ultimately hampered his production.

In 12 games, Bellinger made 11 starts, totaling 30 receptions for 268 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown on the campaign. This rookie season was widely considered to be a success for Bellinger who seemed destined to step into a larger role in year two. However, the addition of Waller to the lineup and the overall poor play from the Giants’ offense held Bellinger back from breaking out.

Bellinger totaled just 25 receptions for 255 yards and zero touchdowns in 17 games with 13 starts in 2023. His lessened role was a disappointing result of a lost season for the Giants as they limped their way to a 6-11 record.

But without Waller in the lineup, Bellinger could see his usage increase and could start to build on the potential he demonstrated as a rookie. However, Bellinger is not the only tight end competing for playing time this season.

The Giants have a pair of tight ends competing for playing time

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Credit: Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

In addition to Bellinger, the Giants also have rookie tight end Theo Johnson gunning for the starting job. The fourth-round pick out of Penn State brings with him a similar build and playing style to Waller. This could allow the Giants to seamlessly fit Johnson into their gameplan, having him run routes that Waller would have, and that Bellinger can’t.

Johnson is a 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end with elite athleticism. He totaled 34 receptions for 341 yards and seven touchdowns in 2023. Because of his size and ability to make plays in the red zone, Johnson could make an instant impact as a rookie.

The Giants could potentially create a solid one-two punch in 12-personnel — when the offensive lineup features two tight ends on the field. Bellinger could be the team’s security blanket underneath while Johnson could be the seam-splitting vertical threat that attacks the deep middle of the field. This should give the Giants a more dynamic passing attack when targeting the middle of the field in 2024.

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