Heading into the 2022 season, the Las Vegas Raiders had arguably the best tight end room in the NFL. In fact, USA Today rated the group as the No. 1 in the league at the time. Foster Moreau and Darren Waller were the headliners, but neither are with the team this season.
Waller was traded to the New York Giants and Moreau signed with the New Orleans Saints. While the Raiders willingly traded the former, it appears there was interest in bringing back the latter. Moreau was an unrestricted free agent and with the franchise tag being used on running back Josh Jacobs, there was no way for Las Vegas to force him to stay. According to a July 13 report from Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network, the Raiders did make an attempt to bring back Moreau.
“The Raiders, another source said, did try to re-sign veteran TE Foster Moreau, but the New Orleans Saints wound up signing him to a three-year, $12.2 million deal ($8 million fully guaranteed),” Caplan wrote. “To replace Waller, the team selected Michael Mayer in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft.”
Moreau now gets to reunite with former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on the Saints. The tight end is a New Orleans native who played college football at LSU. The Saints were a logical landing spot for him.
Las Vegas Raiders Fall to 19 in TE Rankings
Second-round pick Michael Mayer helps soften the blow of losing Darren Waller, but as a rookie, he is still an unknown commodity. The team also signed two-time Pro Bowler Austin Hooper and former first-round pick O.J. Howard. While there’s potential for the group to be solid if Mayer is a difference-maker as a rookie, there’s still a lot to prove.
After being No. 1 in the rankings last year for USA Today, the outlet dropped the Raiders’ current group to 19.
“The Raiders need someone who can make an immediate impact in the receiving game to lend Davante Adams some support,” Christian D’Andrea wrote on June 2. “Fortunately, Mayer slid to the second round after a distinguished career at Notre Dame. The question is whether his good-not-great athleticism will allow those skills to translate on Sundays. Otherwise, there will be a lot of pressure on Hooper and Howard to step up — a combination that would have been pretty exciting together circa 2018.”
Las Vegas Raiders Were Worried About Darren Waller’s Injuries: Insider
It was a surprise when the Raiders traded away Darren Waller. The team gave him a contract extension in September 2022 and he didn’t make it a full year before he was traded in March 2023. Waller was a focal point for the Raiders’ offense and broke the team’s all-time receptions record in 2020 with 107.
According to the same report from Adam Caplan, the Raiders were very concerned with Waller’s recent injury history.
“While getting a third-round pick was seen by multiple league sources as good compensation for the Raiders, considering Waller turns 31 this fall, league sources said some in the club got wary of Waller missing significant time over the last two seasons (14 games),” Caplan wrote.
Time will tell if the Raiders made the right call by trading Waller but it’s understandable why they’d want to dump him off if the injuries are that much of a concern.