Giants TE Darren Waller plans to retire at age 31 after 1 season in New York: Source


Tight end Darren Waller has informed the New York Giants that he’s planning to retire from the NFL, a league source confirmed Sunday. Waller is walking away at 31 years old after spending just one season with the Giants.

NFL Network was the first to report on Waller’s plans to retire.

Waller’s potential retirement hung over the Giants all offseason, with the tight end contemplating the decision since his first season in New York concluded.

“It’s really the idea of signing up for another journey,” Waller told The Athletic’s Dan Duggan in early March. “It’s tough, it’s long, it requires a lot. And if you’re not fully bought into every single thing of the process, it’s going to be tough. I feel like at the end of the day, you’re doing guys a disservice if you’re not all the way in. So those are the kinds of things I’m taking into account.”

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The Giants acquired Waller last offseason in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders for a late third-round pick. Despite his lengthy injury history, the deal was initially viewed as a low-risk, high-reward move by general manager Joe Schoen. And early on, it appeared the move would pay dividends. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and Waller looked in sync throughout training camp and the preseason, and the duo looked poised to create problems for opposing defenses.

But the risk part of the deal revealed itself early as hamstring injuries popped up before the season began. Waller, who had missed 14 games over his two prior seasons in Las Vegas, wound up missing five games in 2023 with a hamstring injury and never made the impact the Giants had hoped. He finished his only campaign in New York with 52 catches for 552 yards and one touchdown as the Giants sputtered to a 6-11 season.

Beyond the injuries, Waller has had an up-and-down NFL career since he was drafted in 2015 by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round. He navigated drug and alcohol abuse during the early years of his career. After being suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, he violated it again and was suspended for the entire 2017 season.

The Raiders signed him off the Ravens’ practice squad in 2018, and he broke out in 2019 with 90 catches for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. He was even better in 2020 with 107 catches, 1,196 yards and nine scores. His 107 receptions in 2020 set a Raiders franchise record, and he earned his one and only Pro Bowl nod.

Despite an injury-marred 2021 season, his excellence in the two previous seasons went a long way in earning him a three-year, $51 million extension from the Raiders before the 2022 season. Injuries limited Waller to just nine games in 2022, and after the season, the Raiders traded him to New York.

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With Waller’s retirement, the Giants will gain $11.6 million in cap savings while eating $2.5 million in dead money in 2024 and $4.9 million in 2025. That cap impact would have been the same if the Giants released Waller, which allowed the Giants to wait out the tight end’s decision, rather than force his hand.

Waller’s expected departure leaves the Giants tight end room thin. Daniel Bellinger will soak up a majority of Waller’s snaps after playing 62 percent of the offensive snaps last season. Bellinger finished the season with 25 catches for 255 yards. Lawrence Cager and Tyree Jackson will also return to the tight end room, while the Giants added Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz during free agency, though both are considered blocking tight ends rather than pass catchers, and Theo Johnson in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

Similar to Waller, Johnson possesses exciting traits with elite size, speed and athleticism. It’s probably too much to ask from him in Year 1, but the Giants are hopeful he can develop into a legitimate receiving threat.

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(Photo: Ryan Kang / Getty Images)



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