Darren Waller has gone from being the subject of trade rumors to being a candidate for a new contract.
Waller, who recently said his agent is working on a new deal, needs one. If, as 49ers tight end George Kittle recently said, the compensation paid to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce “boggles the mind” in comparison to the money receivers are making, Waller’s contract turns the stomach.
He’ll make $6.25 million in base salary each of the next two seasons, along with up to $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses. Throw in his $250,000 workout bonus each year, and that’s a total compensation package of $7 million annually.
That’s less than half of what guys like Kelce and Kittle are making, and they’re at half the top end of the receiver market.
Meanwhile, Browns tight end David Njoku signed last week a four-year, $56.75 million deal ($14.18 million per year), even though his best season still resulted in fewer receiving yards than Waller’s 665 in 11 games last year.
Complicating matters for the Raiders is that they’re paying Davante Adams huge money, and he’s never before played for the team. Waller quietly has emerged as one of the best and most valuable members of the roster, giving the Raiders three years of solid performance.
Injury limited him to 11 games in 2021, which will surely make the new regime want to see what he’s able to do in 2022 before signing him to a new deal.
From Waller’s perspective, should he wait? “When decisions need to be made, decisions need to be made,” Waller said.
Decision No. 1: Should he show up for training camp without a new contract? Whatever he decides, that’s definitely the first decision that needs to be made.