Raiders Rumors: Darren Waller Contract Expected to Be Priority After Renfrow Deal

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJune 10, 2022

FILE - Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) with his helmet off before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals during an NFL football game on Nov. 21, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nev. Waller and many of the NFL’s tight ends will gather in June, 2022, for the second Tight End University camp. (AP Photo/John McCoy, File)
AP Photo/John McCoy, File

A new contract for tight end Darren Waller is reportedly on the Las Vegas Raiders' to-do list after they signed wide receiver Hunter Renfrow to a multiyear extension Friday.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Waller was "expected to be a priority" even though he has two seasons left on his four-year, $29.8 million contract.

Waller, who began his career with the Baltimore Ravens in 2015 as a sixth-round draft pick, enjoyed a breakout season for the Raiders in 2019 with 90 catches for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. He backed that up with 107 grabs for 1,196 yards and nine scores in 2020, earning a Pro Bowl nod.

After emerging as one of the NFL's top tight ends, he missed six games last season because of back and knee injuries. It marked his first absences since 2018 and caused a drop in production to 55 receptions for 665 yards and two TDs.

In turn, now might not be the best time for Waller to agree on a contract extension. If he can bounce back with another highly productive year in 2022, he'd be in line for a more substantial raise next offseason.

The 29-year-old Georgia Tech product said Tuesday he's focusing on getting ready for the season, not the contract talks.

"I just focus on enjoying it while I'm here, whether I'm here 10 years or who knows how long; I'm just being present here," Waller told reporters. "My agent's job is to do that stuff and I just focus on the football part."

His $6.8 million in projected earnings for 2022 ranks 14th among tight ends, per Spotrac. Eight players at the position are slated to bring in between $10 million and $12.5 million, but the Ravens' Mark Andrews reset the market in September with a deal that'll pay him $19 million this year, well ahead of any other tight end.

Waller may have to decide between an immediate raise that could bring him near the top of that second-tier group and betting on himself to return to peak form this season, which could help him strike a more lucrative deal in 2023.

Either way, he's set to line up alongside Davante Adams, who Las Vegas acquired in a blockbuster deal from the Green Bay Packers in March, and Renfrow to give the Raiders one of the best pass-catching trios in the NFL.

Vegas will need every ounce of that playmaking talent to keep pace in an AFC West overflowing with star power and potential Super Bowl contenders.