Waller walks away from the NFL: Giants tight end announces early retirement

Waller walks away from the NFL: Giants tight end announces early retirement

The brief and unproductive partnership between Darren Waller and the New York Giants has come to an early end as the veteran tight end announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday.

Waller, who joined the Giants in 2023, cited lingering health issues and a desire for a new chapter as reasons behind his decision.

Darren Waller new song about his divorce with Kelsey Plum

Waller has been considering retirement since early spring

Waller’s retirement, reported by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, marks the conclusion of an eight-season career marked by significant achievements and personal battles.

The 31-year-old tight end informed the Giants months ago about his contemplation of retirement, choosing to stay away from the team’s offseason workout program and organized team activities this spring.

His absence was a sign of his impending decision, which he confirmed ahead of the team’s mandatory minicamp.

“We have great respect for Darren as a person and player,” the Giants said in a statement.

“We wish him nothing but the best.”

Waller’s tenure with the Giants was short and overshadowed by the team’s struggles in the passing game.

Expected to be a major playmaker, he managed only 52 catches for 552 yards and one touchdown in 12 games, missing five games due to a hamstring injury.

Despite early optimism, the connection between Waller and quarterback Daniel Jones did not yield the anticipated results.

Waller served a one-year suspension in 2017

Waller’s career began with the Baltimore Ravens as a sixth-round pick in 2015.

His journey was marred by multiple suspensions for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, leading to a hiatus from the league in 2017.

However, he made a remarkable comeback with the Raiders, becoming one of the league’s elite tight ends and earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2020.

His standout seasons in 2019 and 2020 included 197 receptions, 2,341 yards, and 12 touchdowns, securing him a four-year, $30 million contract extension.

Injuries, however, continued to hinder Waller’s career.

He was limited to 11 games in 2021 and only eight games in 2022 due to ankle and hamstring issues.

The Raiders traded him to the Giants in the 2023 offseason, hoping for a fresh start, but the same injury woes persisted.

Waller’s departure will have financial implications, as he forfeits his $10.5 million salary for the 2024 season.

His retirement frees up $11.6 million in cap space for the Giants, who will absorb a $2.5 million dead-money hit.

According to reports, the Giants had anticipated this possibility, drafting tight end Theo Johnson from Penn State and signing veterans Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz to bolster their tight end depth.

Off the field, Waller has also faced personal challenges, including a recent divorce from WNBA star Kelsey Plum.

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