Tight end Darren Waller #83 of the Las Vegas Raiders...

Tight end Darren Waller #83 of the Las Vegas Raiders warms up before a game against the New England Patriots at Allegiant Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Las Vegas. Credit: Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Last week, the Giants signed Daniel Jones to a four-year contract.

This week, they’re building the team around him. 

Enter tight end Darren Waller.  

On Tuesday, the Giants dealt the 100th pick in April’s draft for Waller who, when healthy, has been one of the most dominant tight ends in the sport. NFL Network first reported the trade. 

(That 100th pick was the compensation the Giants received from Kansas City for Kadarius Toney. In other words, the Giants essentially traded Toney for Waller. General manager Joe Schoen’s resourcefulness has been on full display this offseason.) 

The 6-6, 255-pound Waller instantly becomes Jones’ most experienced and effective downfield threat. He spent five seasons with the Raiders. In his best years, the 2019 and 2020 seasons, he was simply dominant, with a combined 197 receptions, 2,341 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.  

More recently, he has been beset by injuries, playing in only 20 games over the last two seasons. Last year, Waller had 28 receptions for 388 yards and three touchdowns. He was hampered for much of the season by a hamstring injury that limited his explosiveness and ability to stay on the field. 

Once upon a time, Waller had one of the most productive games of his career at MetLife Stadium, though it came against the Jets. On Dec. 6, 2020, he had 13 catches for 200 yards on 17 targets with two touchdowns.

He was unstoppable that day, in what is now his home stadium. 

Surely, the Giants can envision Waller, fellow tight end Daniel Bellinger, Saquon Barkley, wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins and running back Matt Breida (re-signed Monday) on the field together. And add Jones’ ability to scramble and also to mask designed runs as an option. The Giants offense already seems improved. And it’s clear Schoen isn’t done yet. 

Among the Giants’ needs in free agency and the draft are cornerback, depth on the defensive line and help at the receiver position. The Giants will add a third quarterback at some point, perhaps most likely late in the draft.  

(A quick aside: Breida was a player that coach Brian Daboll really liked and respected from their time in Buffalo together. There’s little doubt Breida will continue to get opportunities in 2023. He had 54 rushes for 220 yards last season.) 

For Waller, the trade to the Giants is another step in his journey. He has been public about his road to sobriety, including in a People magazine story last November. 

Waller said he spent years struggling with drug and alcohol abuse until he got sober in 2017. Waller indicated that he struggled to fit in at school as a child, which eventually led to feelings of stress and his battle with addiction.  

Waller told People that getting sober helped him realize that "nothing good really ever happens in your comfort zone." He also said he continues to find ways to challenge himself. 

In 2017, Waller said he nearly lost his life after overdosing on drugs laced with fentanyl. The result was a year’s suspension from the NFL for abusing banned substances. Waller said he has learned to prioritize "mental and spiritual elements" in his life, along with his commitment to physical fitness. 

Waller was signed by the Raiders to a three-year contract extension before the 2022 season. The deal is set to pay Waller about $17 million per season and runs through 2024. It seems logical that the Raiders were trying to shed that financial commitment. 

For the Giants, the price was right. 


Position: Tight end

Height/Weight: 6-6/255

Age: 30

NFL seasons: 7

Draft: Baltimore, 2015, Round 6

Honors: 2020 Pro Bowl


Games: 74

Receptions: 298

Yards: 3,572

Avg. yards: 12.0

Touchdowns: 19

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