The New York Giants pulled off a blockbuster trade for TE Darren Waller this offseason, giving their offense the elite playmaker it has been seeking. After signing a $51 million contract extension in September, the Las Vegas Raiders shipped Waller off six months later in exchange for the Giants’ third-round draft pick, a welcomed move for the dynamic playmaker.
“Waller is excited for a fresh start in the NFL’s largest market,” according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. One source close to Waller described the opportunity to play for the Giants as a “breath of fresh air” for the star tight end.
Giants new TE Darren Waller needed change of scenery
Raanan writes that sources close to Waller and the Giants told ESPN it was a “well-received trade.” The 2022 season was a disappointing outing for Waller and the Raiders. Hampered with injuries, Waller played in only nine games, totaling just 28 receptions, 388 yards, and three touchdowns.
Raiders owner Mark Davis cited Waller’s health history as a primary reason for the trade. “Things didn’t work out last year, just based on health,” Davis said. “You know, we didn’t quite get the Darren Waller that could have really helped us even more.”
Despite both sides agreeing to extend Waller’s contract at $17 million per year for three years, the negotiations reportedly created a rift between the two sides.
“The relationship between Waller and McDaniels and Ziegler wasn’t contentious, but it became ‘rocky’ following the negotiations for Waller’s extension according to a source close to Waller,” Raanan reports.
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How the trade for Waller came to fruition
The Raiders received offers on Waller prior to the trade deadline during the 2022 season. However, Las Vegas elected to hold onto the dynamic tight end, as HC Josh McDaniels said Waller would “be a big part of what we’re going to do going forward” at the end of the season.
Privately, however, according to Jordan Raanan, the Raiders were noncommittal to Waller about keeping him. This led to the Raiders and Giants having conversations at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. “At that point, it became evident to Giants general manager Joe Schoen the tight end could be had for the right price,” per Raanan.
“[Giants GM Joe] Schoen left the combine believing acquiring Waller was a realistic possibility, according to a team source,” Raanan wrote. “So they did their homework, calling ex-coaches, ex-teammates and personnel who had worked directly with the veteran tight end.”
“There was even a conversation between a member of Waller’s camp and the Giants shortly before the deal was finalized to gauge how receptive the Pro Bowler would be coming to New York and how he would fit with the team,” according to Raanan. “It was determined by everyone involved it would be a good match, if the teams could agree on compensation.”
After conducting diligent research, the New York Giants determined a trade for Darren Waller would be worth the late third-round draft pick they eventually gave up. The Giants are now focused on implementing Waller in their offensive system, which could afford the dynamic tight end an opportunity to give New York WR1 production.