Since the departure of general manager Dave Gettleman in 2022, the New York Giants have dedicated significant resources to reconstructing their culture.
Joe Schoen, along with head coach Brian Daboll, have done a commendable job in recruiting players with a strong focus on victory and leadership, steering the organization towards a better direction following years of fluctuating and divisive performances.
Encouragingly, players have embraced this cultural transformation, including newly acquired tight end Darren Waller, who has expressed nothing but praise for the management and player personnel.
“Yeah, they value our opinions here,” Waller said Thursday, via ESPN. “As a player, I feel like a lot of places I’ve gone, you’re told to do things a certain way and you do those things. But here it’s like, they ask a lot of questions. They want to know what you’re thinking, what you want to do more.
Waller’s most exceptional season was in 2020 with the Las Vegas Raiders when he amassed 1,196 receiving yards and scored nine touchdowns with a catch rate of 73.8%.
Undoubtedly, he is capable of delivering WR1-level performances, and the Giants have done an excellent job securing his services at a reasonable rate for the 2023 season.
Waller’s contract will only charge $4 million against the cap in 2023 when he’ll be 31. However, a three-year, $51 million deal will kick in from 2024, although the Giants have an ‘out’ clause that would incur $7.86 million in dead salary space — a relatively small cost for a player with extraordinary receiving potential.
The Giants needed a true star capable of dominating in the air:
Quarterback Daniel Jones has never been paired with a receiver like Waller, who, while technically a tight end, performs more like a wide receiver.
In fact, Waller played 61.9% of his snaps in 2022 from the slot position, 20% as a boundary receiver, and just 17.4% in-line.
The Giants are likely to utilize Waller more from the slot than as a traditional tight end, which may align with his preferences given his recent communication with the coaching staff.
“So to offer input is a really cool thing because coaches and players have to be in partnership. We’re all together and shouldn’t be clashing with each other. We’re all going in the same direction.”
The Giants have significantly elevated their talent pool over the past two off-seasons, making Waller part of an upgraded roster that holds substantial promise for improvement.
“That’s what I love about being here. It’s just been fun. It’s also been challenging. Guys holding you to a high standard since I got here and I try to reciprocate that.”
Even with a noticeable deficit of talent on the roster last year, the Giants still managed to reach the postseason and even won the Wild Card game against the Minnesota Vikings.
The primary concern with the seasoned tight end is his health. If Waller can stay healthy, he should be able to produce WR1 numbers from the spot, which is exactly what the Giants need at a budget-friendly price.
The more intriguing decision will be whether the Giants choose to keep him beyond the 2023 season, given that his earnings will rise to $14 million in 2024, $15 million in 2025, and $17 million for the 2026 season.