There were a lot of reasons why the Las Vegas Raiders were disappointing in 2022 but injuries played a big part. The three-headed monster of Darren Waller, Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow was supposed to torch NFL defenses but the three were rarely on the field. Waller missed eight games with an injury while Renfrow missed seven.
For Waller, this was the second season in a row where he missed multiple games with an injury. He also missed six games in 2021. This has led to speculation that he could get traded while he still has value. The Raiders gave him a $51 million contract extension last season so they clearly believe he’s an impact player. If he can’t stay on the field, it’s hard to justify paying him so much money. Regardless, head coach Josh McDaniels believes that he can still use the star tight end. He made it clear that he has no plans to move on from Waller anytime soon.
“Darren fought through a lot of injuries and those types of things last year, but I have a great deal of confidence in Darren Waller,” McDaniels said at a press conference during the NFL Scouting Combine. “I thought he ended the season the right way. Really playing well. Still fast, explosive, great teammate, really smart. He’ll be a big part of what we do going forward.”
Why Trading Waller Would Be a Bad Idea
There’s no doubt that Waller’s first season under McDaniels was a disappointment. Even when he was healthy, he didn’t put up the big numbers that were expected of him. His 28 catches for 388 were the lowest since 2018. According to Over the Cap, Waller’s $17 million annual salary is the most of any tight end in the NFL. If he’s going to be paid like a top tight end, he’s going to have to perform like one.
He’s proven that he can do that. He’s too tall at 6-foot-6 for cornerbacks to cover and too fast for linebackers to cover. When he’s healthy, there aren’t many players who are more difficult to cover in the NFL. Getting a second-round pick in a trade wouldn’t be the worst return but there aren’t many players who create the mismatches that he does. Having him healthy with Davante Adams gives the Raiders one of the best duos in the league. That’s too enticing for the team to trade Waller away right now.
McDaniels Wants Good Supporting Cast Around Next QB
Whether the Raiders add a veteran quarterback or draft a rookie, they’ll want to set up that player for success. A great way to do that is to surround the quarterback with weapons. McDaniels spoke about the quarterback position and how important it is to have a strong supporting cast.
“I think that would be the goal is to try to put a good supporting cast around whoever it is,” McDaniels said. “I’ve said it a number of times, but the quarterback room is going to change dramatically for us in the next two months.
“We only have Chase [Garbers] under contract. I would imagine veterans, rookies, a couple of either is going to be in the cards here as we go through it. Some of that’s going to be opportunity, some of that’s going to be ‘Can we acquire them?'”
Quite frankly, I don’t believe a single word that comes out of McDaniels. Maybe if he & Ziegler can finally produce a winner as a head coach & GM I might begin to believe him. So far neither has proven that they can be successful wen they are actually in charge! Sorry but Carr wasn’t the only problem!