Giants Might Be ‘Better Off’ Cutting $51 Million Starter, Says Writer

Giants should consider cutting Darren Waller in 2024.

Getty The New York Giants might have to consider cutting tight end Darren Waller in 2024.

The New York Giants might have to consider parting ways with playmaking tight end Darren Waller after just one season with the organization.

Facing a crucial offseason in 2024, every dollar of cap space must be spent wisely, and USA Today Giants Wire’s John Fennelly pointed out tight end as an area where Big Blue could free up some money.

“It would take a lot of courage to let Darren Waller go after just one season,” Fennelly admitted, “but the Giants look like they got left holding the bag here as Waller was banged up all season — a scenario they were hoping to avoid. The going-on-32-year-old Waller made just 11 starts and played on 51 percent of the offensive snaps.”

Waller’s cap hit jumps up to nearly $14.5 million in 2024 according to Over the Cap, and increases another one million in 2025 and another three million in 2026. Designating him as a post-June 1 cut would only cost the Giants approximately $2.5 million in dead cap each year, however, saving the front office a total of $40 million spread out over three seasons.

In 2024, specifically, Waller’s release would free up $12 million — money that could be spent on a younger, healthier wide receiver.

“With all the young stud tight ends coming out of the college ranks these days, the Giants might simply be better off going in a different direction at tight end right now,” Fennelly concluded, and the numbers support this suggestion.

Waller was acquired with one of the two picks that NYG got back for Kadarius Toney. The other was used on cornerback Tre Hawkins. Unfortunately, the two trades haven’t really worked out for the Giants so far but on the bright side, Toney isn’t doing much better in Kansas City.

Giants TE Daniel Bellinger Had Similar Impact as Darren Waller in 2023

Not only did the Giants make the playoffs without Waller in 2022, but this offense also appeared to operate as good or better without him in 2023.

Big Blue went 3-9 in the games that Waller started this year. While sidelined with injury, the franchise went 3-2.

Now, is that all because of Waller? No, but the statistics do prove that his impact was minimal.

Fellow tight end Daniel Bellinger suited up in every outing in 2023. He was credited with 13 starts — sometimes lining up as a dual-starter alongside Waller — but obviously played a larger role while the $51 million playmaker was injured.

During that 3-2 span as the lone starting tight end, Pro Football Focus graded Bellinger positively as a run blocker (marks of 70.3, 53.4, 61.6, 69.2 and 68.0). He also averaged 27.6 yards per game as a receiver over that stretch — which is not that far off from Waller’s season average of 46.0 yards per game.

Keep in mind, the latter is a liability in the ground game with a run blocking grade of 40.9 on the year.

There’s no doubt that Waller is the more dynamic pass-catcher over Bellinger, but the offense seemed to operate more smoothly without him. The Giants averaged 14.83 points per game with Waller activated in 2023, and they put up 17.6 points per game when he wasn’t.

Giants Could Replace Darren Waller With Brock Bowers, or Rookie Alternative

If the Giants do move on from Waller, they don’t have to roll with Bellinger as the lone starter in his place. There are several decent draft options this April, beginning with Georgia’s Brock Bowers in round one.

Most Giants fans would probably agree that the front office should prioritize other positions at No. 6 overall, but Bowers could be there for the taking if head coach Brian Daboll feels he’s a generational talent at tight end.

If not, the G-Men should be able to find a rookie alternative to pair with Bellinger later on. A few options would be Cade Stover out of Ohio State, Ja’Tavion Sanders out of Texas, or Jaheim Bell out of South Carolina and Florida State among others.

Obviously, any rookie tight end would be more cost-effective than Waller — even a first rounder like Bowers.

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