A year later, Raiders clearly made right call with Darren Waller

The Raiders clearly saw that Darren Waller was no longer going to be the player he once was.
Former Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller
Former Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller / Jeff Bottari/GettyImages

When the Raiders traded Darren Waller for a third-round pick, I was at the forefront of people who thought it was a bad trade. There was a two-year period from 2019 to 2020 where Waller was without a doubt one of the three best tight ends in the NFL.

Rare athletes like him are hard to find and I figured if he stayed healthy, he'd get back to being an elite playmaker. Sadly, I was wrong. A recent report from ESPN's Jordan Raanan suggests that the New York Giants are expecting him to retire soon.

"New York Giants tight end Darren Waller is likely to make a decision by next week's mandatory minicamp about his playing future, and people in and around the team expect that he's going to retire, multiple sources told ESPN," Raanan wrote. "Those close to him believe he's leaning in that direction."

This follows a bizarre offseason that has featured retirement rumors, a high profile divorce and a baffling music video drop. It's disappointing to see Waller be so wishy-washy with New York. I've been one of his biggest defenders but keeping the Giants hanging for all of these months isn't a great look. He's only 31 and is set to walk away from potentially making $51 million remaining on his contract.

I stand by the fact that I believe Waller is a hard worker and good teammate but it's fair to question if he ever really loved football. It's seeming that he's more interested in creating music or working on mental health initiatives than getting back on the football field. It's hard to blame him for that but it's gotta be frustrating for Giants fans to watch.

For the Raiders, there's no doubt that they made the right decision to trade him in hindsight. It was one of the few smart moves that former general manager Dave Ziegler made before getting let go. They added a third-round pick that was used to add wide receiver Tre Tucker and was able to free up money to sign Jakobi Meyers, who was a stud for the team last season.

That's not to mention that the Raiders now have one of the most exciting tight end prospects ever to hit the NFL in Brock Bowers and already have Michael Mayer on the roster, who showed promise as a rookie. Waller had a couple of great years with the Raiders and is the record-holder for most receptions in a season with 107. If this is the end, he has to consider his career a massive success but there's no denying that this would be an incredibly disappointing ending.