To kick off the second day of NFL free agency, we have our first big tight end on the move, Darren Waller. Although this 2023 free agent class isn’t loaded at the tight end position by any means, Waller is one of the best in this class.
According to Tom Pelissero, the New York Giants are finalizing a trade to acquire Waller from the Las Vegas Raiders. The deal was the Giant’s 100th overall pick (third round) for Waller. This is a crazy turn of events because this is the same pick the Giants received from the Chiefs for Kadarius Toney.
The Giants Get a TE
After trading for Jimmy Garoppolo, who isn’t a great quarterback by any means, the Raiders are beginning to look like they’re trying to tank. While Waller has missed significant time in his past two seasons, he’s still a very talented player.
Even though Waller is a great player when healthy, it makes sense for the Raiders to deal him for a third-rounder. Waller is turning 30, and the team won’t be competitive shortly. When rebuilding, having an injury-riddled 30-year-old tight end on your team doesn’t make much sense.
The Giants, on the other hand, need to upgrade Daniel Jones’ pass catchers. Despite horrible receivers, Jones was fantastic last year. The Giants had the sixth-worst passing yards per game at 201.8. Daniel Bellinger wasn’t great, and it makes sense for the Giants to start by upgrading their tight end in free agency.
It’s also worth noting that Brian Daboll worked with the Patriots as the tight ends coach. From 2013-2016 Daboll coached Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. I expect Daboll to utilize Waller due to his background with elite tight ends.
Darren Waller: Stock Up
Being traded to the Giants is a definite upgrade to Waller’s dynasty value. Even though his age and long injury history, he could be in the TE5-TE7 range for the next few years.
If the Giants draft a WR1 to pair with Waller and Slayton, this offense could be outstanding. This would help free up space for Waller and still allow him to be the number one target. I expect Jones to rely heavily on Waller next season as his security blanket.
Although Waller has struggled recently due to injuries, in 2020, his last healthy season, he had a 107-1196-9 stat line. This was good for 17.4 PPG and a TE2 finish.
On the contrary, Waller is still not a top-tier tight end. However, if you can buy Waller at a reasonable cost, that would be a great pickup. Since tight ends are so hard to come by, grabbing a tight end who will finish around the 5-7 range is an excellent move for most teams.
Daniel Jones: Stock Up
Adding Waller to this offense is an excellent move for Jones and the Giants. Currently, the team has one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. Even though the team has Wan’Dale Robinson, it’s also important to remember that he is coming off an ACL injury. It will likely take him some time to regain full strength, leaving Jones with no weapons besides Waller.
Isaiah Hodgins had a good showing at the end of the year, but it seemed like the cause of that was that he was the only option. I don’t expect Hodgins to impact Waller’s target share much.
After the Giants gave Jones a four-year, $160 million contract with $104 million guaranteed, they had no choice but to provide him with weapons. This is a significant upgrade for Jones, as Darius Slayton was his leading receiver with 724 yards in 2022. Despite this, Jones had a career year, and I only see things getting better for him after this move.
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