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Las Vegas Raiders’ Darren Waller eyeing new contract, projecting potential cost

Matt Johnson
Darren Waller
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders struck a bargain deal in 2019 by signing tight end Darren Waller to a four-year, $29 million extension. Needless to say, the 29-year-old is seeing many of his peers become some of the highest paid NFL players and he is hoping he could soon join them.

Las Vegas wasn’t shy about rewarding some of its best players with massive contracts this offseason, signing Davante Adams and extending quarterback Derek Carr. With tight ends now getting paid and the Raiders committed to their Pro Bowl tight end, Waller would seemingly be next in line.

Entering the 2022 season, Waller’s $6.25 million average annual salary ranks far below many of his peers at the position. Recognizing this is a talent they can’t lose and wanting to reward the 29-year-old for his contributions, a deal matching Waller’s impact on the Raiders should be coming.

  • Darren Waller contract: $6.84 million cap hit (2022), $6.25 million salary (2023)

During an interview on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, Waller said his agent is working on contract negotiations with the Raiders. It allows him to focus on football, all while still moving closer towards a new deal.

“Mya gent is working on that. 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. I try to focus on those things and let my agent handle that. When decisions need to be made, decisions need to be made.”

Las Vegas Raiders’ Darren Waller on contract negotiations, via Ross Tucker Football Podcast

It’s the ideal scenario for Las Vegas. Waller isn’t putting any public pressure on the organization to get a deal done and he remains involved in all team activities. Considering owner Mark Davis has shown a willingness to reward great players with new deals at a market value, it all bodes well for a contract eventually being signed.

Darren Waller contract projection

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The market for tight ends has changed dramatically in recent years. Heading into the summer, 11 tight ends average at least $10 million per year on their current deals. Of that group, six of Waller’s peers make at least $12 million AAV.

  • Darren Waller stats (2019-’21): 252 receptions, 3,006 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns

Waller’s production dipped in 2021, but it’s likely the result of NFL defenses putting the spotlight on him with their coverage. That’s going to change in 2022 with Adams now taking over as the No. 1 weapon. It’s going to create a lot of opportunities for Waller to exploit one-on-one coverage.

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Considering the Cleveland Browns just signed David Njoku to a four-year, $56.75 million contract in May, it’s fair to think Waller surpasses the average annual value of the deal. The Raiders are likely looking at a deal worth $14.5 million annually. It would make Waller the second-highest-paid tight end in the NFL, ahead of Travis Kelce who admits he is fine taking less money.

Waller gets to focus on his preparation for the 2022 season, but it should only take a few months before his agent and the Raiders agree on a contract sheet for the NFL star to sign.

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