The Green Bay Packers are still attempting to trade for another veteran pass-catcher — just not a wide receiver, as many have assumed.
According to Aaron Nagler of Cheesehead TV, the Packers have been engaged in trade talks with the Las Vegas Raiders about star tight end Darren Waller with “an eye toward a deal getting done during this week’s NFL draft.” He also confirmed that Waller was the player the Packers had been trying to get from the Raiders while negotiating the Davante Adams trade.
A trade for Waller would be the second high-profile trade between the two teams after the Packers sent Adams, a two-time All-Pro and franchise-record holder, to the Raiders in exchange for their first-round (No. 22) and second-round picks (No. 53) in March. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the Packers had originally wanted a first-rounder and a player — now known to be Waller — for Adams, but franchise-tagged players like Adams can’t be dealt for other players.
While Nagler did not have information on the trade compensation being “discussed or offered,” it is possible Green Bay could be looking to ship one of Vegas’ original draft assets back to them to acquire one of their top receiving weapons.
The Packers have multiple picks in the first, second, and fourth rounds to use for trade capital, but it remains to be seen what it will take to pry Waller loose from the Raiders — or if it is even possible to pull off. Waller will turn 30 in September, but he is under contract for the next two seasons with a cap hit of about $6.84 million for 2022.
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Waller More of a Receiver Than a Blocker
Waller has been sensational for the Raiders over the past three seasons with 1,000-yard seasons in both 2019 and 2020. He was named to the Pro Bowl at the end of the 2020 campaign after catching a career-high 107 receptions for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns. He also added another 55 catches in 2021 despite losing six games to injuries and a stint on the COVID-19 list, catching four or more passes in nine of the games he played.
Looking closer at Waller’s snap alignments in 2021, he spent close to 40% of his 610 total snaps either out wide or in the slot as a receiver. The Raiders also weren’t afraid to move him around to both sides of the field to create matchup problems with him and his 6-foot-6, 255-pound frame. The only area where Waller seems to need significant growth is his run-blocking, which has been OK through his time in Las Vegas but never really risen to the levels that the Packers expect from their wideouts/tight ends.
Waller Could Transform Packers’ Offense
The Packers were bound to become a new type of offense after trading away Adams, but the addition of Waller would solidify a big change for the 2022 season. While they have seen Robert Tonyan bloom into a reliable pass-catcher over the past two years, the remaining cast of Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara and Dominique Dafney — though solid enough — haven’t produced on nearly the same level while running routes.
With both Waller and Tonyan (once the latter returns from his ACL injury) in the lineup, the Packers would have two legitimate vertical threats at the position and could get lean harder into Matt LaFleur’s creative playcalling tendencies to stretch the field as they start rebuilding their receiving corps. It would certainly allow a rookie receiver (or multiple) to learn the system at a more natural pace instead of feeling immediate pressure to step up and be a top contributor.
The Packers also wouldn’t have to abandon their receiver draft plans if they traded for Waller. While it is likely the Raiders would want back a Day 1 or 2 pick at a minimum for their Pro Bowl tight end, the 2022 class is especially deep at the receiver position and could offer a first-year starter in the second or third rounds.