In just a year as the Las Vegas Raiders head coach, Josh McDaniels has proven he doesn’t have any loyalty to players who were on the team before he arrived. This was most evident by the decision to trade star tight end Darren Waller to the New York Giants for just a third-round pick.
Waller was less than a year removed from getting a three-year contract extension and was expected to be a key piece in 2023. McDaniels and general manager Davie Ziegler had other plans. Waller appeared to be an awkward fit with the team under McDaniels. He missed eight games due to an injury and had just 43.1 yards per game, which was his lowest mark in three years. Waller is now in New York in an offense that’s expected to feature him heavily. He’s happy with his new team and may have taken a bit of a shot at McDaniels when talking about it.
“Yeah, they value our opinions here,” Waller said during his May 25 media availability. “As a player, I feel like a lot of places I’ve gone, you’re told to do things a certain way and you do those things. But here it’s like, they ask a lot of questions. They want to know what you’re thinking, what do you like to do more. So to offer input is a really cool thing because coaches and players have got to be in partnership. We’re all together and shouldn’t be clashing with each other. We’re all going in the same direction.”
Did Waller Shade McDaniels?
The NFL Players Association recently did a report card on all 32 NFL teams. While the Raiders received high marks for their facilities and owner Mark Davis was praised, McDaniels and his coaching staff received the lowest marks on the team. The report stated that players “felt that head coach Josh McDaniels is less likely to listen to his players.”
Waller pointing out that the Giants are valuing his opinion is almost certainly a swipe at McDaniels, who players clearly don’t believe values their opinions. The coach has tried to differentiate himself from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, but he can’t unlearn certain things from the future Hall of Famer. However, it’s much more difficult to be aloof with players when you aren’t winning games.
Waller Is Loving New York
Waller really embraced Las Vegas during his time with the team. He even married Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum. He wasn’t married for a month before the Raiders traded him across the country. While most players would be upset with the transition, Waller is taking it in stride. He’s enjoying his time on the Giants thus far.
“That’s what I love about being here,” Waller said. “It’s just been fun. It’s also been challenging. Guys holding you to a high standard since I got here and I try to reciprocate that.”
Waller is an east coast guy so the transition shouldn’t be too difficult for him. He’ll be one of the focal points of the Giants’ offense and could be in for a bounce-back year. Getting traded could end up being a very good thing for him.