The Giants have a $51 million decision to make on injury-prone tight end

New York Giants tight end Darren Waller (12) catches a touchdown pass during the first half in front of Washington Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis (52) at MetLife Stadium
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are heading into a challenging 2024 off-season. The team currently has $23.9 available in cap space, according to Overthecap. There are ways they can clear a bit of room to sign free agents, and the big question remains regarding Daniel Jones and his contract after 2024.

If the Giants make a few big deals and backload the money to year two in 2025, it will essentially hint at Jones being released and the Giants saving a substantial amount of money long-term with his contract off the books.

However, there’s another decision in the balance with Darren Waller. Waller is coming off a polarizing season, dealing with some injuries but making an impact down the stretch. The Giants will have the choice to pick up his three-year, $51 million deal or take the out in his contract and pay $7.86 million in dead money for the 2024 season.

Looking at Waller’s contract, he would count $14 million against the cap in 2024, escalating to $15.45 million and $17.45 million in the following two seasons. Now 31 years old, do the Giants really want to be paying a 34-year-old injury-prone tight end top dollar?

From a scheme perspective, Waller exposes mismatches and helps provide opportunities to others, but the Giants can utilize that money more efficiently on the open market.

[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”151323″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]

The Giants Need to Think Carefully About Taking the Waller Risk

At a moderately higher cost, they could sign Michael Pittman on a long-term contract to help fill the WR1 role, allowing them to address other positions in the 2024 NFL draft. There are alternatives that the front office has to consider, and while Waller is an exciting player, the Giants aren’t a pass-catching tight end away from winning a Super Bowl.

Waller’s financial situation could be problematic down the road since he would be owed nearly $10 million in guaranteed money after 2024, whereas the Giants can move on at $7.86 million in dead money this off-season.

The decision seems to be easy from a financial standpoint, but the Giants will be losing one of their key passing weapons, and they may not be able to supplement that. However, if they draft a receiver in the first or second round, which is likely, they may not need Waller after all.