Sources – Giants expecting TE Darren Waller to retire

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — 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. Those close to him believe he’s leaning in that direction.

Waller, 31, said during an Instagram Live on Friday that a decision was coming very soon. He has been contemplating retirement since the end of last season and hasn’t attended any of the team’s voluntary offseason workouts this spring.

Mandatory minicamp for the Giants is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

The Giants have been operating throughout the offseason, partly out of necessity, as if Waller will retire. New York added at tight end in free agency and the draft, which included the selection of Penn State’s Theo Johnson in the fourth round. Johnson, who has elite pass-catching traits, has even taken some first-team snaps this spring with Waller skipping the voluntary workouts.

The Giants also signed veteran tight ends Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz to add to their tight end room of Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager and Tyree Jackson.

It would be a pleasant surprise to the Giants at this point if Waller decides to return for a 10th season. He has been busy working on his music — a new song was released last week — and he said in an interview with The Athletic he was questioning his “commitment level” to football.

Waller has also spoken recently about the importance of prioritizing mental health. He has been a mental health advocate in recent years after dealing with substance abuse early in his career. Waller and Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum filed for divorce last month after being married for a year.

Waller’s struggles in recent seasons have included staying physically healthy. He has dealt with hamstring injuries in each of the past two years. He played in 12 games after getting traded to the Giants for a third-round pick and had 52 catches for 552 yards and one touchdown in 2023.

Waller is owed $10.525 million for this season with another $1.275 million available in per-game roster bonuses. None of it is guaranteed. He already bypassed a $200,000 workout bonus by skipping the spring workouts and is currently signed through the 2025 season.

The Giants would save $11.9 million on the cap this year is he were a post-June 1 cut.

New York currently has just $1.6 million available in cap space, according to NFL Players Association records. That is the lowest of any team. They will likely need more to get through the 2024 season, but have factored in that Waller retiring could be their solution.

While the Giants’ actions throughout this offseason seem to suggest they’re bracing to move forward without the dangerous pass-catcher, coach Brian Daboll said last week at organized team activities there was no update on the situation. A source said over the weekend nothing has changed since. The Giants continue to wait for a final decision.

Waller has proved over the years that he can be a dynamic receiver. But his career has been filled with ups and downs; he has played in 12 games or fewer in seven of nine seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders and Giants.

Waller topped 1,000 yards in each of the two seasons he appeared in more than 12 games and made the Pro Bowl in 2020. He was the Giants’ leading receiver before getting injured last season.

In 83 career games, Waller has amassed 350 catches for 4,124 yards and 20 touchdowns.

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