Darren Waller won’t be hitting the free-agent market anytime soon as the Oakland Raiders have given him a three-year contract extension, according to Tom Pelissero.
This locks up Waller through 2023. He would’ve been a restricted free agent this coming offseason, but now neither party will have to figure out the next steps. Pelissero added that Waller expected to earn around $9 million a year. The Raiders’ official Twitter confirmed Pelissero’s report.
Waller may have had a rough start to his career due to substance abuse issues, but he’s completely turned his life around and is quickly becoming one of the best tight ends in all of football. He was a breakout star on HBO’s Hard Knocks and his elite play has quickly turned him into a fan favorite. He joins center Rodney Hudson as players who have received extensions from the Raiders ahead of the 2020 offseason.
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Waller Has yet to Drop a Pass in 2019
Darren Waller hasn’t scored a touchdown yet in 2019, but that doesn’t mean he can’t catch. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Waller has the sixth most catches in the NFL without a drop with 37.
He also has more receptions than any other tight end in football. Waller has been a revelation for the Raiders. The team lost Jared Cook in the offseason, who was their top receiver, but they aren’t missing him right now because of Waller. He leads the Raiders in receptions and receiving yards and it’s not even close. Considering Oakland has been really beat up at the wide receiver position, Waller’s production has been a huge asset.
Locking him up for the long-term now is smart because his value will only go up if he keeps playing at this level. Elite tight end play is hard to find and the Raiders haven’t had a consistent threat at the position for quite a while. Don’t expect Waller to slow down anytime soon. One thing is for sure, quarterback Derek Carr is really happy with the move.
The Best Tight End in Football?
If you’re looking strictly at receptions and yardage, it’s hard to argue that there’s a tight end in football that’s playing better than Darren Waller. According to Jon Gruden, he’s the best tight end around.
“He leads the league in receiving right now at that position,” said Gruden during the bye week. “If you watched him block, I don’t know if there’s a better tight end in football really.”
Everybody knew Waller could catch because he used to be a wide receiver. What’s been really impressive is his ability as a blocker. There are plenty of tight ends who can catch really well but can’t block. There are also plenty of tight ends who can block but can’t catch. The truly special ones can thrive in both areas and if Waller keeps it up, he’s going to be in elite company. The AFC West is filled with tight end talent and has been for a while. The likes of Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzales called the division their home not that long ago. It’s about time the Raiders found a long-term option of their own.