Analyzing the Giants' trade for TE Darren Waller

Darren Waller
Darren Waller / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

Among the reasons the Giants were so committed to extending quarterback Daniel Jones was so they would have the financial flexibility to build out the roster around him.

They began to do so on the second day of the legal tampering period, sending a third-round pick to the Raiders in exchange for former Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller.

Here’s a breakdown of the newest Giant.

Getting to know the Giants’ new weapon

The Ravens originally drafted Waller, 30, in the sixth round in 2015. He caught 12 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns his first two years with the team, playing in 18 games. He missed four games in 2016 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He missed the entire 2017 season for violating the same policy.

The NFL reinstated Waller in 2018 after he completed a rehabilitation program at Borden Cottage. He spent a portion of the 2018 season on the Ravens practice squad before the Raiders signed him to their active roster. He played four games for Oakland in 2018, catching six passes for 75 yards.

In 2019, Waller blossomed into one of the NFL’s best tight ends. He caught 90 passes for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. A year later, he earned Pro Bowl honors following a season where he caught 107 passes for 1,196 yards and nine scores — all career highs.

Waller has battled injuries the last two seasons, appearing in just 20 of a possible 34 games. He caught 83 passes for 1,053 yards and five scores in that stretch.

Where does he fit?

The Giants have prioritized surrounding Jones with talent after reaching a four-year, $160 million extension with him last week. The offense was in dire need of playmakers. This free agent class at receiver is believed to be one of the worst in recent memory, absent any legitimate No. 1 options. The Giants viewed Waller as a player who, if he were in free agency, would be the top playmaker available.

Waller is a unicorn-type tight end, capable of attacking all three levels of the defense. He’s a pristine route runner with tremendous hands. He’s the type of player whom they believe they can build a passing attack around, and instantly becomes a go-to target for Jones.

Reading the contract

Waller has four years and $52.5 million remaining on his contract. His $11 million salary this year is the only guarantee the Giants inherit. Waller will count $12.4 million on the Giants’ cap, per The Giants do have the ability to convert Waller’s base salary to signing bonus, spreading out the cap hit over those remaining four years, if they wish to create more cap space for this year.