Did wedding leak prompt Josh McDaniels to trade Darren Waller?


Tuesday brought the latest development in what has already been an eventful offseason for the Giants, who acquired Darren Waller for a third-round pick in April’s NFL Draft. When healthy, Waller has been among the most productive tight ends in football, topping 1,000 yards during his breakout 2019 and again the following season.

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With his salary becoming fully guaranteed on March 17, there’s a good chance the Raiders would have traded Waller anyway, especially after shelling out a combined $100.5 million for free agents Jimmy Garoppolo and Jakobi Meyers (both Patriots alums) in the last two days. However, the trade may have been prompted at least in part by Waller’s deteriorating relationship with coach Josh McDaniels. According to Vic Tafur, who covers the Raiders for The Athletic, Waller was “upset” with McDaniels for revealing his wedding plans, letting slip to reporters at the NFL Combine that his star tight end was marrying Kelsey Plum—leading scorer for the reigning WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces—on March 4 (coincidentally the same day as teammate Maxx Crosby's wedding).

Again, this could all be speculative with Tafur offering no concrete evidence that Tuesday’s blockbuster was even tangentially related to a falling out between McDaniels and Waller. Still, the timing is a bit suspicious, with the Raiders unloading Waller a mere 10 days after tying the knot, going from playing in the same city as Plum to being on opposite sides of the country. Plum threw some fuel on the fire with a tweet of her own weighing in on the matter.

Maybe this was all part of McDaniels’ grand scheme, embarking on a stealth mission to purge the roster of all remnants of the previous Jon Gruden regime, replacing Derek Carr and other incumbents with relics from his Foxborough heyday. Or perhaps Waller’s feud with McDaniels gave Raiders management precisely the excuse they were looking for to finally pull the plug on his $11.875-million cap hit.

Regardless of where the truth lies—and it’s usually somewhere smack dab in the middle—Waller, on the heels of a frustrating 2022, has a chance to reinvent himself in the Big Apple, providing a sorely-needed red-zone presence for an up-and-coming Giants team looking to take the next step.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari, Getty Images