The New York Giants got an absolute steal in tight end Darren Waller.
That’s the opinion of two coaches who spoke about the March 14 blockbuster trade with Heavy Sports senior NFL reporter Matt Lombardo.
Both coaches requested anonymity — but both believe Big Blue came away better from a swap that secured Waller, a 2020 Pro Bowler, for the 100th overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
Said one NFL offensive coordinator: “[Darren] Waller is a stud, he’s one of the few tight ends left that make a huge difference in the passing game.”
“[The Giants] got a hell of a deal with Darren Waller,” another tight ends coach told Lombardo. “He’ll really elevate their passing game.”
Waller can be a difference-maker in New York. He posted back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2019 and 2022. And despite some nagging injuries, he still ranks third among active NFL tight ends in catches (280) and receiving yards (3,394), behind Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and Baltimore’s Mark Andrews, per Pro Football Reference.
Here’s what else you need to know about Waller and the Giants’ biggest offseason acquisition:
Giants Found an Offseason Bargain in Darren Waller
The Giants didn’t just find a star tight end for coach Brian Daboll’s offense.
They found a star tight end in a tough tight end market, according to league coaches and personnel staffers.
“[The tight end market] just never really developed, and there hasn’t been much movement,” the same tight ends coach told Lombardo.
An NFC team’s personnel director added: “Even with good talent at the position in the draft, the lack of movement — or even interest — with that group was really shocking to me.”
General manager Joe Schoen might deserve even more credit for his creative workaround, then.
Names like Mike Gesicki, Dalton Shultz, Austin Hooper and Robert Tonyan Jr. were available in the slow-moving free agent tight end churn. Instead of signing one, Schoen opted to trade for Waller — and Waller’s contract signed in September 2022.
New York’s draft capital didn’t tag a significant hit in this move, either. Schoen gave up the 100th overall pick to acquire Waller and his team-friendly deal — the same pick he acquired from Kansas City in the trade for former first-round pick Kadarius Toney.
That’s a bargain New York had to accept, according to various team insiders on Twitter.
Darren Waller’s Acquisition Can Unlock Daniel Jones
Waller’s acquisition was made with one player in mind: Quarterback Daniel Jones.
Jones added a “go-to” receiving threat in the trade, according to CBS Sports’ Garrett Podell. And the trade could pay “huge dividends” for Big Blue because of Jones’ success targeting tight ends.
“The soon-to-be 26-year-old quarterback had the eighth-highest passer rating in the entire NFL when throwing to tight ends, but he targeted them at the 31st-highest rate in the league last season,” Podell wrote. “Having Waller to be a dependable option over the middle could work miracles for him.”
Podell also points out Waller’s big-play ability. The Georgia Tech product missed eight games and still snagged seven catches of 20 yards or more last season.
By contrast, the Giants only had 28 such catches as a team in 2022.
Wrote Podell: “Safe to say 2022 NFL Coach of the Year Brian Daboll should have fun opening up the offense with Waller’s route concepts in Year 2 with Big Blue.”