NFL insider Michael Lombardi claims Darren Waller price is about ‘durability’

When Darren Waller was moved to the New York Giants at the beginning of free agency, many questioned, “Why now?”

On March 14, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted the Packers offered their second-round pick in exchange for the 30-year-old tight end during the regular season last year.

But afterward, Las Vegas traded Waller in exchange for a third-round pick, taking even less for the one-time Pro Bowler.

League insider and former NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi weighed in on the trade.

This is about durability,” Lombardi, who is a former receivers coach for the Patriots, said on his podcast The GM Shuffle related to Waller.

Darren Waller was traded to the Giants after an injury-ridden season.
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

“This is about ‘I’m getting ready to pay you $11 million, we redid your contract and on the bye week, instead of rehabbing, you went home for four days and accrued the fines. On the bye week, you went home and just didn’t talk to anybody. Just went home and left a message saying ‘hey, fine me. I don’t care. I’m going to southern California…”

Lombardi himself has two sons who are employed by the Raiders, giving more credence to this report.

New England Patriots receivers coach Mick Lombardi looks on during the NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts on December 18, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lombardi used to work as a receivers coach for the Patriots.
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But that is just one side of what could be a biased story.

Regardless, the Giants are looking to wrap their arms around Waller and make him a key part of this rebuilding offense that already added Parris Campbell and resigned Darius Slayton.

Darren Waller #83 of the Las Vegas Raiders warms up prior to a game against the New England Patriots at Allegiant Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Waller emerged as one of the top tight ends in the NFL in 2020.
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Waller has $11 million on his contract this year, and his contract next year is not guaranteed, making the 2023 season a prove-it deal for the oft-injured tight end.

He has only played 18 of 33 possible games in the last two seasons.

But Waller still has a tremendous amount of upside.

During his Pro Bowl year in 2020, Waller recorded 107 receptions, a league-leading record among tight ends, on 1,196 yards.