It’s now looking more and more like the Las Vegas Raiders will pull off a Darren Waller trade at some point during the 2023 NFL offseason.
Multiple media reports indicate that the Pro Bowl tight end is among several veteran players head coach Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler could trade during the spring.
It’s somewhat surprising given just how good of a fit it seemed like Waller would be in McDaniels’ offense. He’s also a less than six months removed from receiving a record-breaking three-year, $51 million contract from the Raiders.
Coming off an injury-plagued 2022 campaign in which he missed eight games to injury, Waller’s trade market should be relatively soft. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and hasn’t performed like a top-flight tight end since the 2020 season.
Even then, we’re talking about someone who can still produce at a high level in the right situation and if he’s able to remain healthy. Here’s a look at four logical landing spots for the Pro Bowler.
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New York Giants give Daniel Jones another target
There’s multiple layers to this potential fit. Daniel Jones himself is set to hit free agency after a breakout season for the surprising Giants. It seems more likely that New York will do whatever is possible to retain the former first-round pick while providing him more targets in the passing game.
Jones just didn’t have the necessary consistent receiving options to elevate his game more than what we saw during the 2022 season. Running back Saquon Barkley tied for the team lead in receptions with 57. Having played only eight games with New York after being picked up off waivers from the Buffalo Bills, Isaiah Hodgins was fourth on the team in receptions.
The idea here would be for Waller to team up with stud young tight end Daniel Bellinger to provide Jones with multiple tight ends capable of catching passes. The cost would likely be a mid-round pick and change, making this feasible.
Denver Broncos add Darren Waller
Division rivals making a deal of this ilk doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Rarely have we seen something like this happen in the modern history of the NFL. With that said, a match could be made.
Regardless of who it brings in to be its next head coach, Denver must find struggling quarterback Russell Wilson a legitimate receiving threat at tight end. The Broncos’ decision to include Noah Fant in last year’s trade for Wilson impacted their offense in a big way.
Imagine Waller teaming up with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy in Denver’s offense. In turn, the Broncos pay a bit more to pry him from a division rival.
Miami Dolphins find a better fit for Mike McDaniel’s system
It became clear during the 2022 season that Mike Gesicki just didn’t work in the offense McDaniel ran in South Beach. The star tight end caught just 32 passes for 362 yards in 17 games. In fact, his numbers were cut in half across the board in comparison to a breakout 2021 campaign.
We also know that McDaniel runs an offense that likes to rely on tight ends. Just look at his tenure as an assistant with George Kittle in San Francisco. It stands to reason that Darren Waller would be a better fit in this scheme than Gesicki. Adding him to the mix to go with wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle would be a boon.
Darren Waller finally heads to the Green Bay Packers
Rumors surfaced ahead of the November NFL trade deadline that Green Bay was interested in acquiring Waller as another option for Aaron Rodgers in the passing game. Nothing came to fruition on this end.
With Robert Tonyan set to hit free agency, it would not be a surprise if general manager Brian Gutekunst kicked the tires on this possibility again. Based on his track record, Waller would be a great addition to head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense.
- Darren Waller stats (2019-21): 252 receptions, 3,006 yards, 14 TD, 71.0% catch rate
Even if Rodgers were to retire or heads to another team via a trade, Waller would be a great fit in Green Bay. If the future Hall of Famer does indeed return, that will be magnified even more.