Giants 2024 Position Breakdown: What's next for the tight ends without Darren Waller?

Heading into the 2024 season, the Giants are coming off a disappointing 6-11 season, looking to bounce back into the team that won a playoff game in Minnesota two years ago.

In this series, we’ll break down the depth chart for every position group. This time, we’ll go in-depth at the tight end position…

Projected depth chart

Starters: Daniel Bellinger, Jack Stoll

Backups: Theo Johnson, Lawrence Cager, Chris Manhertz, Tyree Jackson

Key additions/losses: Darren Waller expected to retire

Top Performer in 2023: Waller, who had 52 catches for 552 yards and one touchdown

What Giants’ tight ends have going for them

For almost the entirety of the offseason, the Giants have been playing the waiting game with Waller. After trading a third-round pick for the veteran last offseason, Waller has been undecided about his playing future this offseason, but it looks like the saga is finally drawing a conclusion. With Waller now expected to announce his retirement by the start of next week's minicamp, the Giants now finally have some clarity. Is it the decision they wanted? Certainly not, considering Waller was acquired to be a key piece of the offseason. But at least now the team can map out what they want to do at the tight end spot.

What the Giants tight ends do have going for them is that the current roster has a lot of high-upside players. Bellinger was drafted in the fourth round two years ago and has been a decent No. 2 tight end the last few seasons, but he definitely still has more to offer. The Giants drafted another tight end, Johnson, in the fourth round this year out of Penn State, and at 6-foot-6, 259 pounds, he could be a threat in the red zone. Stoll was used more as a blocking tight end than anything else with the Eagles, but he's only 26 and could be in for a larger role as a receiver. Jackson is also a fun name to watch, though the former college quarterback has yet to really catch on as an NFL tight end.

Key concern for 2024: Who leads the way?

Right now, Bellinger is likely the Giants' No. 1 tight end, and while he's shown flashes here and there, he's still a bit of an unproven entity. In two seasons, Bellinger has 55 catches for 523 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers aren't bad given his limited playing time, but they're also about equal to one full season of what Waller brought to the table last year.

Will Joe Schoen be comfortable going into the season with an unproven group of tight ends, or will he try to get creative to bring in a veteran to lead the group. Former Washington Commanders tight end Logan Thomas could be a name to watch, as he was released earlier this offseason despite putting up some strong numbers in DC. Jimmy Graham is also a free agent, but he hasn't been an impactful player in a handful of years at this point.

New York Giants tight end Darren Waller (12) goes up over Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (7) but can t make the catch on the last play of the game the would have won the game for New York. Instead the Bills held on to win 14-9.

Player who must step up in 2024: Bellinger

After scoring a pair of touchdowns as a rookie, Bellinger had no touchdowns in his sophomore season. With Waller in front of him on the depth chart, Bellinger's role in the passing game was almost nonexistent, as he was only targeted just five times in his first six games. But when Waller was sidelined, Bellinger saw in increase in playing time, catching 11 passes on 12 targets for 138 yards in the five games Waller wasn't in the lineup.

Not much was expected of Bellinger last season, but if he starts the season as starting tight end, he'll need to step up.

Biggest camp battle: Stoll vs. Johnson

Stoll is a three-year veteran, and he's got 50 games of NFL experience under his belt. But he was mainly used as an extra blocker for the Eagles, as he was behind Dallas Goedert on the depth chart. As a result, it's hard to know how much Stoll can contribute to the passing attack.

Johnson, on the other hand, tied for the team lead with seven receiving touchdowns in his final season at Penn State. Johnson could be groomed to one day be the Giants' starter, as he has all the physical traits, so it will be interesting to see if he's given opportunities to shine in the red zone right away as a rookie.

Overall 2024 outlook

The way things currently stand, the Giants don't have many great options at the tight end position. They have some interesting names on the depth chart, but unless an unproven name like Johnson or a veteran like Bellinger takes a big leap forward, Big Blue just doesn't have a lot of fire power at tight end.

If and when Waller announces his retirement next week, as is widely expected, it's likely that Schoen will try to bring in a more proven entity to give Daniel Jones more of a receiving option to pair with his group of talented receivers.