Raiders GM Dave Ziegler Has Eye-Opening Explanation for Darren Waller Trade

darren waller

Getty Former Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller.

There was a lot of hype about the Las Vegas Raiders‘ three-headed monster on offense last season of Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Davante Adams. While Adams had a big season, injuries to Renfrow and Waller made it to where the trio was never able to make the impact that many expected it to. The team will now never know how good that trio could be with Waller getting traded to the New York Giants.

Trading the tight end has been talked about for the past year but the Raiders didn’t move on from him. The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reported during the season that the Green Bay Packers offered a second-round pick for Waller. When the Raiders finally traded him, they got a late third-round pick from the Giants. That wasn’t a strong return for the former Pro Bowler. In an interview with Tashan Reed of The Athletic, general manager Dave Ziegler explained the thought process behind the Waller trade:

When you look at the trade in the singular aspect, we traded Darren for a third-round pick, right? Kind of taking a step away, what we ended up doing there is we ended up taking a portion of the money that Darren was making and acquiring Jakobi Meyers plus a third-round pick. So, that’s what ended up precipitating the trade. There was an opportunity to do it and, obviously, we thought it was the best opportunity for the football team. That’s how I really looked at is we ended up moving Darren for Jakobi and a third-round pick. Obviously, I thought that was worth the cost of doing business. Darren’s a phenomenal football player. He’s super talented. He’s super explosive. And Jakobi’s a really good football player, too. Ultimately, we felt like the value of acquiring Jakobi and the third-round pick was good value for us in terms of moving Darren.

Why Ziegler’s Logic Is Flawed

It’s understandable why the Raiders would want to move on from Waller. He has dealt with injury issues the last two seasons and was one of the most expensive players on the team. However, Ziegler’s explanation doesn’t make much sense. He’s saying that the Raiders effectively traded Waller for Jakobi Meyers and a third-round pick.

That’s not how the NFL works. Sure, the team added salary cap space to make room for Meyers but that doesn’t take away the fact that the Raiders didn’t get a good enough return for Waller. Perhaps if the team held out, they could’ve gotten a second-round pick from another team. Meyers is a good player but he’s not better than Waller when healthy. Trading the tight end for Meyers and a second-round pick feels better than what the Raiders got. This is similar logic for last year’s trade of Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts for Rock Ya-Sin. That was looked at as a poor return for a star pass rusher but it was justified by the fact that it gave the Raiders enough money to sign Chandler Jones. That move blew up in the team’s face as Ngakoue had 9.5 sacks last season while Jones had just 4.5.

Raiders Offense Can Still Be Dynamic

Waller is a difficult player to replace. The team has signed Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard to take over at tight end but neither player provides that mismatch that Waller does. That said, the offense can still be dynamic.

The wide receiver trio of Adams, Renfrow and Meyers should be one of the best in the NFL despite the fact that they all have similar skill sets. New quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t going to throw a lot of deep balls so having three wide receivers who can win over the middle of the field is a logical strategy. Though the group won’t be explosive, it should still be one of the best passing attacks in the NFL.

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