When New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen recently said "we're not shopping for minimum players anymore" in reference to his first free agency run in 2022 atoning for his predecessor Dave Gettleman's cap usage, he truly said it with his chest.
After giving quarterback Daniel Jones a four-year, $160 million extension, using the franchise tag on Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley and signing former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke to a four-year, $40 million deal with $22 million guaranteed, Schoen made a trade Tuesday for Raiders Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones. The Raiders will receive the Kansas City Chiefs' third-round compensatory pick -- the 100th overall selection-- which will come at the end of the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Waller, who signed a three-year, $51 million contract extension with Las Vegas on the eve of the 2022 regular season, will now be joining Big Blue as one of the more prolific tight ends across the last four seasons. He trails only the last two First-Team All-Pro tight ends -- Kansas City's Travis Kelce and Baltimore's Mark Andrews -- in catches and receiving yards across the last four seasons.
Darren Waller TE ranks since 2019
One cause for concern the Giants may have is Waller's injury history that has emerged across the last two seasons, 2021 and 2022. He missed six games in 2021 while dealing with back and knee issues plus a hamstring injury put him on injured reserved midway though last season, which contributed to him missing eight games. He'll also be 31 in September.
Darren Waller last four seasons
* Missed 14 games due to injuries in 2021-2022
The Jones-Waller pairing could create fireworks since he had the eighth-highest passer rating in the entire NFL when throwing to tight ends, but he targeted them at the 31st-highest rate in the league last season. Waller could also help unlock Jones' deep ball since he had seven catches of 20 or more yards downfield, the most among all tight ends last season despite missing eight games.
On the flip side, Jones ran a conservative offense that looked to limit mistakes as he had the second-shortest pass length in the entire league in 2022, 6.4 yards downfield. The Giants were also one of the top 10 red zone offenses in the NFL a year ago, converting 63.3% of their red zone drives into touchdowns -- the seventh-highest rate in the NFL -- despite not having a go-to big body like Waller's 6-foot-6, 255-pound frame to throw it up to. Safe to say 2022 NFL Coach of the Year Brian Daboll should have fun with Waller's route concepts.
Daniel Jones targeting Tight Ends
Pct of Pass Attempts
Waller will become the clear-cut No. 1 option for the Giants on a receiving core that includes Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard and Wan'Dale Robinson as other likely starters. For the Raiders, they dump Waller's salary after seemingly filling his targets over the middle with former New England Patriots wideout Jakobi Meyers, whom the Raiders signed Tuesday morning to a three-year, $33 million deal.