Giants TE Darren Waller To Retire

Throughout much of the offseason, the future of Darren Waller has been in question. The veteran tight end has been expected to retire for some time, though, and to little surprise that is the direction he has elected to move in.

Waller has informed the Giants he will hang up his cleats, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. The 31-year-old made it clear he would make a final decision no later than the break between mandatory minicamp and training camp. With the final aspect of New York’s offseason program set to take place over the coming days, the team can now move forward knowing Waller will not be in the fold.

The former Pro Bowler faced major expectations upon his arrival with the Giants, which came about last offseason via trade. He was attached to a three-year, $51MM pact, but much of that will now come off the books given this decision. Waller’s retirement will create roughly $11.6MM in cap space while incurring a dead money charge of just over $2.4MM in 2024 and ’25. Given the nature of the free agent market at this time of year, of course, the team will be hard-pressed to find a starting-caliber replacement.

Plenty of snaps will be available to 2022 fourth-rounder Daniel Bellinger once again. He served as New York’s starter as a rookie, but his role diminished last season with Waller in place. The Giants added Theo Johnson in the fourth round of this year’s draft, and he will aim to carve out at least a rotational place in the team’s offensive plans. Veterans Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz are also in the picture at the tight end spot.

Waller began his career as a sixth-round pick in 2015. His Ravens tenure consisted of sparse usage and a one-year suspension in 2017 for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. After joining the Raiders, however, he saw a major uptick in production. During the 2019 campaign, the Georgia Tech product posted 1,145 yards. He followed that up with a 107-1,196-9 statline one year later, cementing his status as one of the top pass-catching options at the position around the league. Hamstring injuries became a problem over the past three years, however.

Over time, the missed action increasingly became an issue for the Raiders, and Waller’s injuries were a key factor in the decision to find a trade partner. The Giants paid only a compensatory third-round pick to acquire him last March, but Waller’s tenure in the Big Apple will go down as a notable disappointment. Injury consideration was a central component of his decision-making process with respect to attempting at least one more year in the league, something which would have seen him receive as much as $12MM.

Instead, Waller will call it a career after eight seasons and nine years in the NFL. With over $42MM in career earnings, he will now turn his attention to his post-playing endeavors. The Giants, meanwhile, will prepare for training camp with added financial flexibility but a vacancy on the TE depth chart.

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