Darren Waller was just finishing up with his physical therapist in Las Vegas on Tuesday morning when he got a call from Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Zeigler, who alerted the star tight end that he had been traded to the New York Giants.
“It’s been crazy… saying goodbye to Vegas people, saying hello to new Giants teammates,” Waller said on Wednesday. “I did not see this coming… It caught me off-guard. Just the nature of the business.
The 30-year-old, who had overcome a drug addiction since the age of 15, is just two years removed from a season in which he was a part of the conversation for the title of best receiving tight end in the NFL, posting 106 receptions for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns. Yet injuries have slowed his ascension to superstardom down quite a bit. He played just 11 games in 2021 due to ankle and knee issues before his 2022 was limited to just nine games because of a nagging hamstring injury.
“There are a lot of injuries you can tough your way through but the hamstring, you can’t run with [it],” he said. “When you continue to reaggravate it… it really limits you because you literally can not run. It was frustrating for sure but in those moments, I learned a lot about myself.”
His goal in preparing for the 2023 season with the Giants is to pace himself, ensuring that he’ll be “peaking at the right time,” rather than training too hard and showing up to camp “exhausted,” as he did the previous three years. That will help disband the notion from the outside that he might be deemed unreliable.
“I believe wholeheartedly in myself,” he said. “Through action and consistent performance, Giants fans can believe as well. They can have questions about me, and those are legitimate concerns… I can be the best I can be to make this team better and help them get to the next level.”
A healthy Waller is slated to become an invaluable piece to a Giants offense that has its foundation in place after signing Daniel Jones to a monster four-year, $160 million and retaining running back Saquon Barkley via the franchise tag.
“They just radiate with humility. I really respect that,” Waller said of his new teammates. “[These are] guys that are so talented and have a lot of upside are stepping into their prime as players. I’m excited to be with them and become friends of theirs… and go where everybody knows this team can go.”
The Georgia Tech product held the same kind of reverence for head coach Brian Daboll, who helped to significantly turn the perception of the Giants around in just one season under general manager Joe Schoen.
“It’s an exciting brand of football… I feel like he has really empowered players,” Waller said. “From the outside looking in… to see him and see how he gets everybody involved… I’m excited to get in the mix with this offense.”
For more on Darren Waller and the Giants, visit AMNY.com