Giants’ veteran tight end still holding $7 million hostage

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 have just under $7.5 million in available cap space, and with needs at cornerback and free safety, they may need to clear a bit more room to make free-agent acquisitions. With that being said, they need about $8 million to allocate toward their 2024 draft class and could use a bit more wiggle room heading into the season.

Veteran tight end Darren Waller can fix many of those problems by deciding his fate. Waller has been considering retirement for the better part of two months, and while he’s made no progress in his decision to continue or call it quits, he’s actively holding $7 million hostage in the process.

If the Giants were to cut Waller, the Giants would immediately clear $6.6 million in cap space, which would certainly be helpful in helping the secondary. Having already lost Xavier McKinney, the Giants need support, and while the addition of Brian Burnes is exciting, his impact on the secondary will be minimal for obvious reasons.

The Giants Need The Financial Flexibility

If Joe Schoen manages to secure a quarterback in the first round of the draft, there’s a strong possibility they will have to part ways with their 47th overall pick—assuming they trade up. That second-round pick is very valuable and could represent a starting-level cornerback or safety. However, it’s impossible to say what the Giants will do about three weeks out from the draft, but Waller’s indecisiveness is certainly concerning.

If Waller decides to stay, he would be owed $14M, a number already baked into the Giants’ cap space. However, losing him would open up a major hole at the tight end position, a spot that would be left primarily to Daniel Bellinger, who’s heading into his third NFL season. Bellinger showed promise as a receiver during his rookie campaign but was mostly ignored in that regard last year to support as a blocker in-line.

Waller not only has about $7 million tied up, but his departure would represent the loss of a significant weapon, so his process has a two-fold effect. It seems as if Waller is waiting to see if the Giants plan on being competitive next season since he’s unsure of his commitment to the grueling process of an NFL season, not to mention his injury history.

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