Former Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller announces retirement from NFL after eight seasons

Former Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller announces retirement from NFL after eight seasons

Darren Waller is calling it a career.

The New York Giants tight end will retire from football, he announced in a YouTube video.

“The passion is slowly been fading. I’ve, you know, made the decision that I’ll be retiring from the NFL,” Waller said. “Eternally grateful for the game of football. I wouldn’t be able to have this conversation or to think things through or be self-reflective if it wasn’t for an opportunity to save my life and go to rehab, which the NFL offered me.”

The decision comes after Waller spent months contemplating whether he was going to come back to the football field or step away. In March, he told The Athletic he was considering retirement as he was unsure if he could be fully invested in a season, as well as his injury history. Recently, Waller and WNBA star Kelsey Plum filed for divorce after one year of marriage, and Waller released a music video that alluded to their breakup.

It’s been an up-and-down professional football career for Waller, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. He played in 18 games in two season, but he dealt with multiple suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, including a full-season suspension in 2017 as he battled drug addiction.

Waller signed with the Raiders in the middle of the 2018 season after Baltimore released him, but he had a breakout season in 2019. In 2020, he had arguably the best season of his career with 107 catches, 1,196 receiving yards and nine touchdowns as he was named a Pro Bowler. He emerged as one of the top tight ends in the league after the 2020 season, but he dealt with injuries over the next three seasons.

In 2022, he signed a three-year deal worth $51 million that made him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. In March 2023, the Raiders traded Waller to the Giants in what expected to be a big boost to the New York offense. However, Waller was again limited by injuries, as he appeared in only 12 games with 52 catches, 552 receiving yards and one touchdown.

New York had given Waller space as he contemplated his future, and they still have Daniel Bellinger, who was the starter as a rookie last season. The team also drafted former Penn State tight end Theo Johnson in the fourth round in this year’s draft. The Giants will gain nearly $12 million in cap space with a dead money charge of $2.458 million in 2024.

“We have great respect for Darren as a person and player. We wish him nothing but the best,” the Giants said in a statement.

Waller finishes his eight-year NFL career with 350 catches, 4,124 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.

Contributing: Art Stapleton,

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