Raiders sign breakout TE Darren Waller to three-year extension

Jack Baer
Yahoo Sports Contributor

The Oakland Raiders will be taking one of this season’s biggest breakout players with them to Las Vegas.

Tight end Darren Waller signed a multi-year contract extension with the Raiders on Wednesday, the team announced. The deal is reportedly for three years after this season, with an average annual value of $9 million, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero.

Waller would have been a restricted free agent this offseason, and, given how he’s played in his second chance in Oakland, he would have been highly sought after.

Darren Waller gets his big contract

Two years ago, Waller’s career looked like it was basically over. The former sixth-round pick for the Baltimore Ravens was suspended the entire season in 2017 for a second violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

At that point, Waller had more games lost to suspension than receptions in his career. He would later tell “Hard Knocks” cameras he was using “opiates, Oxy, pills, stuff like that, Xanax, cocaine.” During his year-long suspension in 2017, Waller entered drug rehab in Maine and worked at a grocery store 40 hours a week, per The Athletic.

Waller was waived by the Ravens before the 2018 season and ended up on the team’s practice squad. The Raiders then decided to take a chance on him and signed him last November. The Raiders brought him back for this season, and that has paid significant dividends after the departure of last year’s starting tight end Jared Cook.

The Raiders, and fantasy football players, have hit the lottery with Darren Waller this year. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Through five games this season, Waller ranks fifth among tight ends in the league in yards per game with 71.8 and second in receptions with 37. Both marks easily pace the Raiders, who have kept Waller on the field for more than 90 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.

The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Waller has never lacked for talent as a receiver, and 2019 has been the year his obstacles have been removed.

At 27 years old, Waller is already one of the best comeback stories in the NFL. That story will officially continue with the Raiders after this season.

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