Giants TE Darren Waller has hinted at retiring before this season begins. He told the Giants he’d let them know before the mandatory minicamp, which begins next Tuesday, June 11th.
So the question is, “Will he or won’t he return to the team for the 2024 season?”

Months ago, Darren Waller informed the Giants he was considering ending his storied football career—and he’d be doing it on his own terms.

There are many other things going on in his life right now outside of football.  There are also things that stay with him from before his football career even started.

Dealing with Drug Addiction

Waller is a recovering drug addict.  In 2011, he started using opioids while in high school.  This opened the door to other substances when he was attending and playing football at Georgia Tech.  Although he showed immense talent, his issues caused him to drop to the sixth round of the 2015 draft.

Two NFL suspensions followed in 2016 (four games) and 2017 (full season), which led the Baltimore Ravens to drop him.  A near-death encounter with pills laced with fentanyl was enough to lead Waller to begin a dedicated rehab and renewed desire to return to the NFL.  

Pro Bowl Talent

Waller returned in 2018 with the Oakland Raiders and was a Pro Bowl player in 2020.  As the years followed, he had hamstring issues, which limited his playing time.  But when he played, he was one of the better offensive players in the league.

In 2023, the Giants traded a 3rd round draft pick (from the Kadarius Toney Trade with the Chiefs) for Waller.

Since returning to football, Waller has been a spokesperson and model of success in recovering from addiction.  The fan base viewed Darren as an exciting addition to Head Coach Brian Daboll’s passing attack.

Despite playing just 12 games for the G-Men, Waller finished second on the team in receptions (52) and receiving yards (552).

Other Life Interests Taking Priority Now?

Waller also married Kelsey Plum, the WNBA Las Vegas Aces’ star, in 2023. But the distance relationship—Plum in Las Vegas and Waller in New Jersey—lasted barely a year, and the couple filed for a divorce in April.  

Waller is also testing his musical prowess as a rapper, releasing his latest single, “Who Knew (Her Perspective),” on May 30th. He’s been dabbling in Rap music since 2019, which gives some credence to the idea that he may not return to football.

Either Way, the Giants Have a Plan

Perhaps Waller’s indecision caused the Giants’ Front Office to set up contingency plans. They drafted Penn State TE Theo Johnson with Pick #107 in the fourth round of the April draft.

Johnson joins Daniel Bellinger to give the Giants two big blocking tight ends with good hands drafted by GM Joe Schoen.  Bellinger was on the rise as an offensive weapon before Waller came to the team.  Johnson is a big target (6′ 6″), getting a lengthy look as a receiving weapon during OTAs so far this Spring.  

I’ve always believed a player contemplating leaving the game has already left mentally and perhaps even emotionally.
It’s doubtful Darren Waller will return, but the Giants have enough weapons to overcome the loss.

PHOTO: New York Giants

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