Darren Waller Finally announced Early  retirement   after one season with Giants says medical episode caused him to re-evaluate life and…

NEW YORK – Darren Waller is retiring after one season with the New York Giants, the star tight end announced Sunday, ending months

of speculation about his football future. “The passion has slowly been fading,” Waller said in a 17-minute video announcement. Acquired

for a third-round pick in a March 2023 trade with the Raiders, the 31-year-old Waller entered last season as the Giants’ top receiving

threat but finished with 52 catches for 552 yards and a touchdown in 12 games. A hamstring injury cost Waller five games in 2023,

marking the second season in a row that the 6-6 pass-catcher missed time with a hamstring issue. Days after he suffered last season’s

hamstring ailment on Oct. 29 against the Jets, Waller experienced an undisclosed medical episode that left him “on the edge of death,” he

said in Sunday’s video. The health scare, which left Waller hospitalized for three-and-a-half days, caused him to re-evaluate his life, he

said. In April, Waller and Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum filed for divorce after just over a year of marriage. Waller has since released a

breakup song, “Who Knew (Her Perspective),” and an accompanying music video. Originally a 2015 sixth-round pick by the Baltimore

Ravens, Waller overcame addiction to play eight seasons in the NFL, using his rare blend of size and speed to become one of the league’s

top tight ends. “These last four months [have been] quite a journey for me,” Waller said in Sunday’s video. “It makes me look back on

getting sober from drugs and alcohol as really just the tip of the iceberg, when really that’s a big deal and should not be discounted.” He

continued, “Really learning that the drugs and alcohol are really just a symptom of deeper issues, deeper-rooted things. What I’ve learned

in these last four months has me like, aha, that’s the reason that I am the way that I am. It’s brought me to the point of rethinking my

career and leaving my marriage.” Sunday’s development had been expected by many within the league. It came two days before the start

of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Waller missed all of the Giants’ voluntary offseason programs as he contemplated retirement. “We

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

playing status up in the air, the Giants drafted tight end Theo Johnson out of Penn State in the fourth round of April’s NFL Draft. Johnson

joined a tight-end room that also includes Daniel Bellinger and Jack Stoll. Waller ends his career with 350 receptions, 4,124 yards and 20

touchdowns with the Ravens, Raiders and Giants. He made the Pro Bowl with the Raiders in 2020, when he set career highs with 107

catches, 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns. Waller signed a three-year, $51 million contract extension with the Raiders before the 2022

season and was set to count $14.08 million against the cap in 2024. “The common thought process is, ‘How could you leave money like

that on the table,’ which is [in] excess of $30 million over the next three years,” Waller said. “That’s a whole lot of money. … I understand

and respect that, but I feel like I spent most of my life on what I ‘should’ be doing and measuring that in the eyes of what people would

expect from me.” Without Waller, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones figures to lean even more heavily on a wide receiver group that

includes rookie Malik Nabers, whom New York drafted No. 6 overall in April; second-year speedster Jalin Hyatt; slot target Wan’Dale

Robinson; and veteran Darius Slayton, who led the team in receiving four of the past five seasons.



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