The Las Vegas Raiders dealt tight end Darren Waller to the New York Giants on Tuesday, freeing up some cap space, adding a 2023 third-round draft choice, and sending the star pass catcher outside of the conference.
The Giants bolster their weaponry for quarterback Daniel Jones one week after locking him up with a massive contract. Waller is effectively the WR1 of this offense for the time being.
New York has no one of note in the passing game after the failed Kenny Golladay experiment, even though he remains under contract. Former first-rounder Kadarius Toney wore out his welcome almost immediately, getting dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs for the same third-round pick (No. 100) that eventually would bring Waller to town. Wideouts Richie James and Darius Slayton both are scheduled to hit free agency on Wednesday.
Entering his age-31 season, Waller was a late bloomer. His career began unceremoniously as he battled drug addiction with the Baltimore Ravens before exploding in 2019 during his second year with the Raiders (90-1,145-3). He went on to set an even higher bar for himself the following season (107-1,196-9) but has been capped at 20 appearances over the past two campaigns due to injuries.
If healthy, the talent is there for Waller to lead this offense through the air. The free-agent pool of wide receivers is basically just a bunch of guys this year, but nearly anyone is an upgrade over what currently is on the roster. Look for at least one fairly high pick to be devoted to the position. Either way, there’s still plenty to go around for Waller to see more than 100 targets.
While serving as offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, current Giants head coach Brian Daboll helped get the most from tight end Dawson Knox, though he and Waller are quite different in terms of their style. The latter is more of a vertical guy whose downfield movement skills allow him to be treated more like a slot receiver than an inline Y tight end. Waller wasn’t a good fit for what the Raiders were looking for from the position, and he’ll be utilized by the G-Men in a more natural way for his talents.
Assuming he can remain healthy, which is a little bit of a leap of faith at this stage of his career, Waller offers midrange No. 1 TE value in almost every fantasy format. The position is extremely volatile from season to season, and it’s one of the uncommon times in conventional leagues where drafting a second tight end is not only worthwhile but strongly advised.
In 2023, the draft class for tight ends is extremely deep, so replacing Waller could go in a number of directions.