The Oakland Raiders locking up tight end Darren Waller before the offseason will prove to be a tremendous decision for the franchise as he will be a huge value.
Few positives can be gleaned from the Raiders embarrassing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in their final game at the Coliseum. It was ugly, and a comically bad way to lose a game, especially considering the context of Sunday’s contest. The fans in Oakland deserved to go out with a win, yet, they left with perhaps the most ‘Raiders’ loss ever. Frankly, it was almost an unimaginable narrative that played out.
Nonetheless, besides the loss aiding the team in the form of a better draft pick, there was very little to take away from the game. As per usual, rookie running back Josh Jacobs continued his strong rookie campaign and looks like a phenom. Joining him as one of the very limited bright spots from Sunday is tight end Darren Waller.
Throughout the offseason and regular season thus far, Waller has been talked about a lot. From his incredible back story to his performances on the field, there really isn’t anything to not like about Waller.
One thing that doesn’t get talked about enough, however, is the fact that the Raiders may have made their best decision of the season when they extended Waller in the middle of October. Waller was set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason, but the Raiders locked him up for the next three seasons.
Per Spotrac, Waller is expected to receive an average of $7.45 million over the next three seasons before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2024. When compared to contracts like those for Jimmy Graham, Kyle Rudolph, Zach Ertz, and Travis Kelce… that is an absolute steal.
In addition, the tight end market is expected to blow up with Ertz, George Kittle, Austin Hooper, and more all expected to get new contracts after standout seasons. This makes having Waller at $7.45 million on average even more of a steal in comparison to those other players.
This season, Waller is second in the NFL with 879 yards (only behind Kelce) and third in receptions with 72 (behind Kelce and Ertz). Waller’s production has been impeccable and his talent is undeniable. Having three more seasons at a very reasonable price is huge for the franchise and allows them to allocate money to other positions. Perhaps they use the extra cap space to address the holes at linebacker and wide receiver?
If there is anything positive to take from Sunday it is that the future is bright despite the current situation being pretty dire. Having Waller is a huge reason for optimism in the future as he is one of the best tight ends in the league and the team has him at a very affordable price. Hopefully the team builds around him and Gruden doesn’t abandon utilizing him for stretches next season.