Darren Waller signs three-year contract extension with the Raiders

·3 min read

Darren Waller signs three-year contract extension with the Raiders originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Darren Waller and the Las Vegas Raiders have come to an agreement over a three-year contract extension that reportedly includes $51 million in new money, according to ESPN’s Adam Scheffter.

The deal locks Waller in for five more seasons and puts him in the range among the highest-paid tight ends in the league.

He's due to make $25 million over the next two years, including over $2.5 million in active roster bonuses, followed by $12 million in 2024, $13 million in 2025 and $15 million in 2026. However, roughly only a third -- $19.25 million -- of the total package is guaranteed.

Waller had two years left on his four-year, $29.8 million contract. The 2020 Pro Bowl tight end reportedly sought a new contract more in line with his recent production, even switching agents last month to Drew Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey.

Rosenhaus, who has represented high-profile stars including Rob Gronkowski, Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown, said Waller’s extension was “one of the most challenging negotiations” he’d encountered in his over three-decade career.

Waller was drafted out of Georgia Tech by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth-round in the 2015 NFL Draft. His three-and-a-half years in Baltimore were best remembered for his struggle with addiction, dating back to his teenage years. 

He was suspended the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and missed the entirety of the 2017 season due to a second substance abuse violation.

After completing a rehabilitation program, Waller joined the Raiders’ practice squad midway through the 2018 season, appearing in four games and making six receptions for 75 yards.

Waller proceeded to enjoy a breakout 2019 season with the Raiders, becoming the team’s top receiver and Derek Carr’s favorite target. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2020 and established the Darren Waller Foundation to “equip youth to avoid and overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol and support youth and their families during their recovery and treatment journey.”

One of the potential hold-ups for his contract extension were recent injuries that left Waller, nearly 30 years old, sidelined. He missed six games last season due to ankle and knee injuries and missed much of training camp this past summer due to a hamstring injury.

New Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels has consistently sung Waller’s praises through the offseason, highlighting the work he’s putting in to return to the field as soon as possible.

“He’s doing everything he can to get there as fast as possible,” McDaniels said. “... [He’s] working his butt off. He knows that he’s going to be a big part of the team and what we want to do and he’s right there.”

Waller’s commitment to the team seems to have paid off ahead of their Week 1 matchup against the Chargers on Sunday. Las Vegas is a 3.5-point underdogs and will certainly hope for a big performance from its star tight end.