The Las Vegas Raiders made another major move Tuesday by sending Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller to the New York Giants for the No. 100 pick in the draft, at the end of the third round.
Here are some early thoughts on the big deal:
Extensions don’t matter:
Prior to last season, the new Las Vegas regime gave contract extensions to Waller, quarterback Derek Carr, defensive end Maxx Crosby and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. They along with new receiver Davante Adams were supposed to be the core of a Super Bowl window. Now, Waller joins Carr as a former Raider and Renfrow could be shipped out as well now that the Raiders signed Jakobi Meyers this week. They ended up paying both Carr and Waller extra money and they reportedly declined a second-round pick for Waller last October, only two settle for a lesser trade piece now. I’ve always thought the Dave Ziegler-Josh McDaniels regime operate move by move rather than showing they have a plan and this situation smacks of that.
#Raiders gave Waller an extra $4 million last year and Carr and extra $5 million when both were still under contract and then got rid of both for the 100 overall pick. Is that good roster management? https://t.co/CJxN8aUh6V— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) March 14, 2023
Who will be the starting tight end?
Jesper Horsted is the only tight end currently on the Raiders’ roster. He has 13 career catches. So, this trade creates even more needs for Las Vegas. The Raiders could bring back Foster Moreau. They want him back, but money has been an issue. But is Moreau really a top-tier starter like Waller is? There has also been reports they are interested in veteran blocking tight end Marcedes Lewis.
Don’t listen to McDaniels:
Look, coaches always try to say the right things. But McDaniels seemed to pour water on rumors that Waller was on the trade block just 14 days ago at the NFL Combine. His players know his words can be empty.
Josh McDaniels two weeks ago: "(Waller) will be a big part of what we're going to do going forward."— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) March 14, 2023
More draft ammo:
The Raiders now have an NFL best 12 draft picks. Most of them are on the third day, but now that they added this pick at the end of the third round, they do have four picks in the first two days of the draft. That certainly helps, but it comes at a big price in the form of losing a talent like Waller.
Waller had special impact:
I’ve always had so much respect for Waller and his story is so rare. We all know it. Waller overcame substance abuse addiction and long NFL suspensions to become a star after the Raiders plucked him from the Baltimore practice squad in 2018 when they previous regime saw him in pre-game warmups. Waller has been an incredible force of positivity in the Las Vegas community, helping others afflicted by substance abuse. He was special and will always be admired.
Get better elsewhere:
This trade gives the Raiders an extra $11.4 million in salary-cap room. With needs on the offensive line and everywhere on defense (and tight end), the Raiders have work to do to try to get better in 2023.
Teammates apparently not thrilled:
Waller and the Giants visit Las Vegas in 2023. It will be an interesting reunion. It is clear some teammates are not happy Waller is leaving Las Vegas. Check out these two tweets that were sent moments after the trade was announced:
Shits sad fr— Josh Jacobs (@iAM_JoshJacobs) March 14, 2023
Bro Wtf— Jermaine Eluemunor (@TheMainShow_) March 14, 2023
Rookie tight end class is strong:
This rookie draft class is considered extremely deep. Expect the Raiders to look at tight ends early. But again, there are plenty of other needs as well.
A trade is somewhat understandable:
Waller will be 31 in September and he missed a total of 14 games the past two seasons. He could be nearing the end. But in the short term, he would have helped the Raiders’ offense and the Giants are getting a nice piece as they try to become a major factor in the NFC.
Waller is 30 and he's missed 14 games past two seasons. So, getting late 3rd isn't horrible. But still, why did #Raiders extend him last year? This regime continues to make moves step by step rather than showing it has a real plan. Only plan has been to compile guys they know.— Bill Williamson (@BWilliamsonNFL) March 14, 2023