New York Giants star Darren Waller makes his retirement decision official

Darren Waller
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last offseason, when the New York Giants traded the 100th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft for Darren Waller, many fans praised the front office for landing a star pass-catcher, solving one of the team’s biggest needs. Here, Giants GM Joe Schoen took what he got for trading Kadarius Toney and turned it into a Pro Bowl tight end; it was viewed as a big win in the Big Apple.

Yet, Waller’s one season in New York didn’t go the way anyone had hoped. He was only available for 12 games and was limited to 52 receptions and 552 receiving yards with one touchdown. It was respectable production for a starting tight end, but he rarely flashed the game-breaking ability that made him a Pro Bowler in 2020.

Then the offseason began, and rumors of the 31-year-old potentially considering retirement began to lurk. For whatever reason, he’s taken several months to give the Giants’ front office a final decision on his playing status for the 2024 season, making them go through free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft without providing his team with an answer.

On Sunday, we finally learned what Waller won’t be doing this season: Playing football.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Waller has let the Giants know he plans to retire from the NFL, effective immediately. The move clears roughly $11.6 million in cap space for New York.

Yet, the Giants likely saw this coming. Back in April, they selected Penn State tight end Theo Johnson with the 107th pick in the draft. Johnson, a 6-foot-6, 259-pound athlete with impressive 4.57 speed, has a similar play style to Waller.

But Johnson will likely be relegated to backup duties as a rookie, with Daniel Bellinger reclaiming the Giants’ starting tight end role. The Giants also have Jack Stoll, Chris Manhertz, Lawrence Cager, and Tyree Jackson on the tight end depth chart, giving them a long list of athletes with upside.

Meanwhile, maybe Waller focuses his attention on his rap career now, with the Landover, Maryland native already having released several songs, including one about his recent breakup with WNBA star Kelsey Plum.

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