The Oakland Raiders have given a multi-year extension to tight end Darren Waller. Waller was set to be a restricted free agent this offseason, and instead of possibly franchise tagging him, he will be with the team through at least 2023. This deal will pay him $9 million per season.
The #Raiders are signing their breakout TE Darren Waller to a contract extension through 2023, source said. Instead of being a restricted free agent in March (and potentially staring at a franchise tag after that), Waller gets his payday now. 💰
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 17, 2019
Darren Waller Gets Extended
Waller’s career got off to a slow start after being a sixth-round pick in 2015 by the Ravens. His athleticism was obvious, but the main reason he struggled was dealing with substance abuse.
Now, that substance abuse is in the past, and Waller is one of the better stories in the league this season.
Coming into this season, he had only played in 22 games. In those games, he caught 18 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
However, this season he has 37 catches on 42 targets. In those catches, he has 359 yards and has converted 17 first downs for the offense. Once Antonio Brown was released, Tyrell Williams became the go-to target. However, there were plenty of questions about who would be the second option. Waller has taken that opportunity and ran with it.
Not only has Waller been very reliable, but the average depth of his targets this season is 8.5 yards. He doesn’t have many yards after the catch, but the depth of his targets has been huge for Derek Carr and is a testament to his athleticism.
Waller hasn’t proven much in the NFL. However, he has been great this season, and the Raiders must feel confident with what they see everyday to invest in him.
Of course, this deal isn’t an astronomical amount of money each season, making it easier to commit to this, even if it is a fairly long-term deal.
Regardless, it’s cool to see someone that struggled with an issue like Waller did to be able to get his life back on track and now he’s living up to his potential.
Top Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images