Arguably the most disappointing player in a disappointing year for the Las Vegas Raiders has been Darren Waller. Chandler Jones has been much worse but he’s played in every game whereas Waller has missed four games due to injury. The team gave the star tight end a three-year contract extension worth $51 million in the offseason but he hasn’t been the same player.
The Raiders are 2-7 and a big reason for that has been the offense’s inability to score a lot of points in recent weeks. Following Sunday’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Derek Carr suggested that not every player on the team is doing everything they can to win. Some suggested that Carr was possibly talking about Waller, who has dealt with injuries for the last two seasons now.
However, Carr said he wasn’t talking about Waller and now the tight end has come out and addressed the chatter.
“Me and Derek talked about it,” Waller said Thursday, per Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We know each other. We know how we’ve shown up, and we’ve been teammates for four years, so those kinds of things don’t affect our relationship. We just know that’s the way things go sometimes and nobody’s trying to take those things personal.”
Waller Addresses His Lackluster Season
There’s never been an indication that Waller isn’t a hard worker. He went from almost being out of the league to one of the best tight ends in the NFL. That doesn’t happen without hard work. That said, he hasn’t looked the part of a top-five tight end when he’s been on the field this season and the fact that he’s not even playing is leading to frustration.
Waller doesn’t blame anybody for being frustrated for his 2022 season. He’s ready to take all of the hits on the chin that comes his way.
“I get it,” Waller said. “When it comes down to a season where you’re not meeting expectations, and a dude has signed a shiny new contract and there’s big expectations for him, it’s frustrating. People can throw me under the bus and blame me. It is what it is and how it’s going to be. I know how it goes, and I’m tough enough to handle it.”
Will Waller Return This Season?
Waller is currently on Injured Reserve and won’t be eligible to return until the Raiders’ Week 14 game against the Los Angeles Rams. The team could feasibly be 2-11 at that point and be completely out of the playoff race. With the season over and injuries a concern, the Raiders and Waller might decide that it’s best to have him sit out the rest of the season.
However, both sides should be motivated for him to return. If he doesn’t play anymore this season, he’ll lose a lot of trade value he might have had. Also, if he comes back and the offense finally comes alive, the team would know that they need Waller to have a successful offense. There’s a reason the Raiders didn’t accept the offer of a second-round pick from the Green Bay Packers at the trade deadline. They know he can be a difference-maker when he’s healthy.