In a bit of breaking news, the Las Vegas Raiders have agreed to a new deal with star tight end Darren Waller. Therefore, making sure that the team’s core of stars has long-term commitments in place.
It’s fun to look back at the Raiders’ recent history and note how much the organization has changed. Raiders fans will never forget Jon Gruden’s return to the team and the scrapping of a roster that had been to the playoffs the year prior. In the name of “doing what was best for the Raiders,” several players were jettisoned, including Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. You have to wonder how this offseason would’ve gone under Gruden and Mike Mayock. Imagine an offseason where Waller, Maxx Crosby, and Hunter Renfrow would’ve been traded. Considering his track record, it’s not that farfetched. However, that’s neither here nor there.
The Raiders' offseason spending included:
– TE Darren Waller: 3-years, $51M
– QB Derek Carr: 3-years, $121.5M
– WR Davante Adams: 5-years, $141.25M
– DE Maxx Crosby: 4-years, $95M
– DE Chandler Jones: 3-years, $51M
– WR Hunter Renfrow: 2-years, $32M
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 10, 2022
This new brain trust recognized what they had in place already (unlike Gruden). More importantly, they understood that to ensure long-term success, they would need to secure the services of Waller and Co. That was especially true after McDaniels himself said that he was trying to “win now.” Yes, that also includes securing Derek Carr’s services. If you want to win big, you have to spend big. Just look at what the Raiders have accomplished this offseason. Now you can certainly make the argument that making all these financial commitments wouldn’t have been feasible in Oakland, but I digress. The group listed by Field Yates will be the Raiders’ foundation for at least a couple of years. Arguably, it’ll also be the team’s best shot at a Super Bowl in nearly a generation. Yes, a generation.
Darren Waller extension: It’s a new day for the Raiders as the final domino falls
It must be a strange thing to see for Raiders fans to witness. We’re referring to the efficiency, cunning, and business-like approach that general manager Dave Ziegler (and head coach Josh McDaniels) are using to run the Raiders. Long gone are the shenanigans of previous regimes; Ziegler and McDaniels want to win and will do what it takes to do so, no egos, no personal agendas. What’s more, they have the full support (and wallet) of Mark Davis. It was a negotiation that seemed to take an eternity and took a few turns as well, but Waller is here to stay for the Raiders.
Darren Waller’s agent Drew Rosenhaus – who worked with Robert Bailey on it – added about Darren Waller’s extension, “It is very rare for a 30-year old player with two years left on his contract to get a new deal.” Waller now tied to the Raiders for five years and $66.25 million.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 10, 2022
Originally breaking Waller’s story was Ian Rapoport, Adam Schefter, your typical connected insiders. Called by Waller’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, the “most challenging negotiations I’ve encountered,” the work is done. Waller can now focus on the regular season clash with the Los Angeles Chargers tomorrow.
As far as the financials of it all, Schefter reports that it ties Waller to the Raiders for five years, the contract’s value sits at $66.25 million. Another aspect to this new deal is the long-term ramifications it will have for NFL tight ends. In particular, future tight ends that’ll be receiving a pay day soon are Dalton Schultz, T.J. Hockenson, among others.
Waller’s story has come full circle
It’s been quite the journey for Waller and that’s putting it lightly. Raiders fans have heard the story ad nauseam, but when you consider his new deal, it’s notably remarkable how far he’s come. In 2016, he was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, the following year: suspended the entire year.
A long road to recovery and rehab followed thereafter. Along with nailing the Kolton Miller pick upon his return, Gruden’s Raiders legacy (with a boost from Greg Olson) will also have the discovery of Waller on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad attached to it.
.@Raiders Josh McDaniels statement on Waller: "Darren Waller is an exemplary teammate in every way, and we’re excited to see him continue to grow as a leader on this team."
— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) September 10, 2022
As McDaniels alluded to earlier today, Waller is an exemplary teammate. That point can’t be more understated. He’s a prime example of someone rising above their demons and getting their life together. Not only getting it together but exceeding everyone’s expectations, a true locker room leader, with or without a captain’s designation.
The story kept on giving for Raiders fans
Whether it was Waller moving on from his previous representation or him missing a preseason game, this entire saga was interesting to watch unfold. You had YouTubers rallying fans, calling Waller “selfish,” among other words. That was even after word came out that the organization was fine with Waller attending a women’s basketball game across the way from Allegiant Stadium. It was a weird dynamic, but it showed that fans still have feelings when it comes to players “holding out” or looking for new deals, etc. Regardless, Waller never held out; he attended the practices that his health permitted, and now that everything is in place, we can all focus on what matters: his on-field performance.
A line of outstanding Raider TEs 👇🏻🏴☠️🏈✍️🏻
From Billy Cannon, Raymond Chester, Dave Casper, Todd Christensen and now Darren Waller!
* Darren needs to get that championship ring 💍 just like his predecessors. pic.twitter.com/9aUKKukG4O
— AFL Godfather 🏴☠️👓🏈 (@NFLMAVERICK) September 10, 2022
Waller currently forms part of a legendary, distinct line of Raiders tight ends that includes Todd Christensen, Dave Casper, and Raymond Chester, to name a few. The only thing that eludes Waller is a Super Bowl ring. With the current team brass in place, he may have a chance in the coming seasons.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/John McCoy