Giants may get WR1 production from the tight end position

new york giants, darren waller
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) just misses a catch during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Nfl Las Vegas Raiders At Tennessee Titans

The New York Giants did not acquire a WR1 this offseason to support their offense, but they did the next best thing: bringing in an elite receiving tight end to revamp a struggling unit.

Although the Giants were linked to players like Jerry Jeudy and even Arizona star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, General Manager Joe Schoen took a far more subtle and clever approach to addressing the team’s WR1 issues.

He traded a third-round pick to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for Darren Waller, a player capable of producing elite numbers in the passing game. Waller is currently on a three-year, $51 million deal that expires in 2027. However, his contract includes an out after the 2023 season, which accounts for just $7.8 million in dead salary. He has a $4.5 million cap hit this upcoming season, which increases to $14 million in 2024, $15 million in 2025, and $17 million in 2026.

Clearly, the Giants do not want an injury-prone tight end at 32 years old making $14 million, so it is safe to say they may move on after the upcoming season. Nevertheless, if he can maintain his health, he will undoubtedly be worth every penny.

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The Giants can expect elite production from Darren Waller:

The 6’6″, 255-pound tight end has recorded two seasons with over 1,100 receiving yards. He boasts a career 69.8% catch rate, accumulating just over 3,500 total yards and 19 touchdowns. His best season came in 2020 with the Raiders, earning his first and only Pro Bowl appearance. He registered 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns, comparable to a WR1.

For comparison, Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills tallied 1,225 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021, one of his best professional seasons. Waller achieved similar numbers from the tight end position, showcasing his capabilities.

Interestingly, Waller’s snap distribution is diverse. Throughout his career, Waller has played 31.7% of his snaps from the slot, 23.1% out wide, and 44.6% in line. This versatility opens up the offense entirely, attacking the seams and providing the Giants with a big-bodied receiver on the boundary.

As the Giants aim to replicate WR1 numbers, expect Waller to act as a de facto receiver during the 2023 season. This versatility and dynamic style should result in increased production, particularly since the Giants are targeting a more pass-oriented offense.