The Las Vegas Raiders Should Trade Darren Waller

Earlier this week, reports out of Las Vegas are that the Raiders might be open to trading Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, two of the team’s more consistent weapons in recent times. Last off-season, when people were still optimistic about the Raiders, it was the trio of Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller that sold tickets.

The Las Vegas Raiders Should Trade Darren Waller

With every trade, there are two simple questions. “If someone else wants this player, why am I so eager to get rid of them?” and “If they’re willing to get rid of this player, why do I want them?” Typically, it comes down to the precarious assumption that you can utilize them better. Sometimes it’s true. The Oakland Raiders gave up on Randy Moss, and he went to New England and had one of the best seasons for a receiver ever. Sometimes it’s not. The Denver Broncos sent a king’s ransom over for Russell Wilson and got a shadow of a franchise quarterback in return.

Darren Waller, on paper, is a unicorn. He’s bigger than most receivers and faster than most tight ends. His hands are second-to-none, and there’s nobody in the league who can cover him man-to-man. Athletically, in a class of his own, with the ability to terrorize a defense or completely change the dynamic of an offense. In 2019 and 2020, Waller was that dude for the Raiders. In both seasons, he eclipsed 1,000 yards and was, for all intents and purposes, the team’s WR1. The departure of Antonio Brown and the struggles of Henry Ruggs III put a lot of pressure on Waller to carry the passing game, and he did exactly that.

A team in search of a dynamic playmaker would gladly send some draft capital to Las Vegas for a player of Waller’s caliber. So why do I think the Raiders should trade him? With a new quarterback coming in, and a revamped offensive line on the horizon, shouldn’t I want the Raiders to hold onto such a stud?

Bang for Your Buck

Simply put, the Raiders aren’t getting a good return on their investment. This season, Waller had the highest base salary of any tight end, and in return, he gave the Raiders 28 catches for 388 yards and three touchdowns. It’s unfair to question Waller’s commitment to football, but he’s certainly missed a lot of time since he got paid. This season, he had a lingering hamstring issue that caused him to miss eight games. The year before, he missed six games, and clearly wasn’t the same guy when he did play.

The Raiders are paying top dollar for an aging, oft-injured, inconsistent target who has two good seasons during an eight year career. He was out-performed by Foster Moreau this year, who, while passable, is hardly a top ten tight end in the league. If the Raiders can get good value for Waller, they can free up another $12,000,000 in cap space. Getting draft picks in return for a player who isn’t earning his keep, freeing up much-needed funds to repair the team’s offensive line and defense, seems like common sense to me. Last year, the Packers allegedly offered a second round pick for Waller, if the Raiders are looking to trade up in the draft for a quarterback, they could package their 2023 first and that pick to move up precious spots.

Not to mention, if they’re not drafting a quarterback, and signing a certain first ballot Hall of Famer, he’s probably bringing a tight end out of retirement with him anyway.


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