Ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, there was some talk about the Las Vegas Raiders potentially trading star tight end Darren Waller.
Las Vegas had just given up a first and second-round pick for star wide receiver Davante Adams and was lacking capital to make a major impact during the draft itself.
Waller is now in the news for another reason. The Pro Bowl tight end appeared on the Ross Tucker Podcast recently and seemed to break some news.
“My agent is working on that (a new contract). I understand it, but I know if I focus on it too much, it could take away from my job and learning a new system and just continuing to try to elevate and take care of my body in the right way,” Darren Waller said about contract talks. “I try to focus on those things and let my agent handle that. When decisions need to be made, decisions need to be made.”
At the very least, it seems that Waller is considering holding out of mandatory off-season programs and training camp should an extension fail to come to fruition.
All of this comes on the heels of the Cleveland Browns signing a lesser tight end in David Njoku to a four-year, $56.75 million extension.
Darren Waller contract and the NFL tight end market
Waller, 29, is currently playing under a four-year, $29.8 million extension he signed with the Raiders back in October of 2019. To say he’s vastly underpaid would be an understatement. With the tight end market resetting itself on a near never-ending loop, Waller is the 17th highest-paid player at his position in terms of his average annual salary. He’s vastly outplayed that contract since signing it.
- Darren Waller stats (2019-21): 252 receptions, 3,006 yards, 14 TD, 71% catch rate
To put this into perspective, Njoku has caught 60 passes for 729 yards and seven touchdowns during that very same three-year span. He’s currently earning an average of $14.19 million compared to $7.45 million for Waller.
There’s every reason to believe that the Raiders’ new power duo of general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels want something to get done on this front during the summer.
Vegas went all in this offseason by adding the likes of Davante Adams, Chandler Jones and Rock Ya-Sin to the mix. It doesn’t want a contract stalemate to hold the team back during training camp. That’s for sure.
If something does happen, we can expect a new Darren Waller contract to come in at roughly $15 million annually — making him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. Right now, George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers owns that title making the aforementioned $15 million annually.