When the Raiders initially signed Darren Waller off the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad, not much was made of the move. The team had Jared Cook, who was having a great year, and Waller already had a couple of suspensions on his resume. However, once the offseason rolled around, it was clear that the team thought they had something special.
It didn’t take long for the world to realize that the Raiders had one of the most exciting tight ends in the NFL. Waller quickly built an excellent rapport with quarterback Derek Carr and became his number one target. The tight end went from having one foot out of the NFL door to accumulating 90 receptions and 1,145 receiving yards.
Waller Sounds off on Derek Carr Rumors
Thanks to his excellent breakout season, Waller probably doesn’t like the idea of making a switch at quarterback. However, there were a ton of rumors this offseason about the Raiders were planning on moving on from Derek Carr. The only thing the team ended up doing was adding a backup in Marcus Mariota and many of the rumors appear to have been unfounded. Waller was recently a guest on the Raider Cody Podcast and he had some strong comments about the rumors.
“I’m in the building every day and I see the chemistry between the quarterback and the coach, and the general manager coming around and just how everyone feels about having our quarterback in the building and the impact he has on our team,” Waller said. “I guess people may think that because our team is young that they may want someone fresh in there. I don’t know. I can’t really find a good reason because I see all the reasons that [Carr] should still be here and I’m extremely grateful that he is still with us.”
Any time a player or coach is asked about Carr, they level pretty strong praise at him. He had a strong year in 2020 and while it didn’t translate to a playoff berth, it would’ve been premature for them to dump him in favor of someone else. Waller has quickly become one of the team’s most important players, so if he’s endorsing Carr, then there shouldn’t be too much concern about the quarterback’s status with the team.
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Waller Talks 2020 Goals
Waller went from catching 16 passes in total over his first four seasons to catching 90 in one year. It’s hard to imagine he’ll be even better in 2020, but it’s certainly possible. Waller was able to talk about some of his goals for 2020 on the Raider Cody Podcast.
“I would say, be just as consistent or even more consistent because I feel like there were things that were less on the table last year as far as my play and my production,” Waller said. “Just continue to be out there because I don’t want to be just like a flash in the pan because that’s what most of my career was up until last season.”
If the Raiders could get 2019 numbers from Waller over the next three seasons, they definitely won’t complain. As a receiver, he’s arguably the best in the NFL at the position. However, he did mention he would like to improve his blocking. He was a wide receiver in college, so it makes sense that blocking would be an issue for him. If he can become elite at that, he could be the best tight end in the NFL very soon.