The Las Vegas Raiders pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the offseason so far with the trade of Darren Waller to the New York Giants. The Pro Bowl tight end was considered one of the top players on the roster and the team gave him up for very little in return. While the trade doesn’t make much sense on the surface, there could be more to why the deal happened.
Waller was supposed to be a focal point of the Raiders’ offensive attack last season. He missed eight games due to injury and had a difficult time making an impact while he was on the field. He’s gonna be 31 when next season starts and is among the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. The Raiders may have just preferred to use that money to fix the defense. There may also be another factor at play.
Waller recently married Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum on March 4. Nobody knew the power couple was getting married until Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels let the news slip at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Las Vegas Review-Journal posted a story revealing the information about the wedding to the world. According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, Waller was not pleased with McDaniels leaking the news as he was hoping to keep it a secret.
Waller only gets one chance at his first wedding so it’s understandable why he’d be upset. It’s unclear if he was so upset that he requested to be traded but it certainly didn’t help his relationship with McDaniels.
Plum Takes Shot at McDaniels
Notably, Waller was married on the same day as former Raiders teammate Maxx Crosby. The defensive end had a much bigger wedding than Waller and there were many Raiders players and coaches in attendance. Waller didn’t appear to have many members of the organization attend.
Former quarterback turned analyst Robert Griffin III called out McDaniesl for trading Waller after he just got married. This led to Plum taking a shot at the coach and saying that the reason he traded the tight end is due to the fact he wasn’t invited to the wedding.
There’s clearly no love lost between the Waller family and McDaniels. The Raiders host the Giants next season so he won’t have to wait long for his chance at revenge. Notably, Plum plays for the Aces, which is owned by Raiders owner Mark Davis.
Raiders Now Need to Replace Waller
The Raiders don’t have a capable replacement for Waller on the roster. Tight end is now one of the biggest needs on the team. McDaniels is a coach who has had a lot of success with tight ends. Former fourth-round pick Foster Moreau is a free agent and doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of interest. The draft is also deep with tight end talent this year.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the Raiders are big fans of Moreau and he noted how deep the draft class is at tight end.
“The Raiders also like Foster Moreau a lot, and we’ll see if they re-sign him (he’s a free agent). There’s also a historically deep tight end class in this year’s draft,” Breer wrote.
If there was ever a year for the Raiders to go younger at tight end, this is a good one to do it.