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Giants TE Darren Waller on being traded from Raiders: 'It caught me off guard'

Monday, Darren Waller returned from his honeymoon with wife and WNBA star Kelsey Plum. Tuesday, the tight end found out the Las Vegas Raiders had traded him to the New York Giants.

Waller, whom Vegas had shopped for a year despite signing a three-year extension last fall, said he was surprised by the trade.

"I did not see this coming," he told the New York media on Wednesday. "I was getting ready to just do everything I could to make myself available for the Raiders and get ready for everything that was going to start in mid-April. It caught me off guard, but it's the nature of the business."

Waller generated back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020, earning a Pro Bowl bid in 2020 and becoming one of the premier tight end threats in the NFL. His size and speed make him a mismatch nightmare for linebackers and safeties alike.

But injuries have sideswiped his past two seasons in Vegas. In 2022 he appeared in just nine games, earning 28 catches for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

If Big Blue is getting the healthy, dynamic Waller, it's a coup of a trade. If he remains injured, it's likely a one-year washout.

To his credit, the 30-year-old understands the questions about his health, calling them "legitimate concerns" for fans, but believes he's in a spot to put them in the past.

"I believe wholeheartedly in myself, and I believe that through action and through consistent performance, Giants fans will believe as well," he said. "They can have questions at this moment about my health. Those are legitimate concerns, but I'm somebody that I believe I've addressed those issues. I'm willing to come out here and to be the best I can be to be a weapon for this team, a tool that this team can use to get to that next level that they want to go to. That's exactly what I'm going to do."

In Brian Daboll's offense, Waller represents the first true field-tilting playmaker Big Blue has added -- if he can stay on the field.

"I'm feeling great right now," Waller said. "I know for me, the biggest adjustment I've had to make going into this offseason is making sure that I'm peaking at the right time. Something that helped me to elevate my game at such a high level was working myself so hard in those 2018, 2019, 2020 offseasons, to where it was almost too hard, and that became my norm. Now it's about how do I become more efficient with it and making sure I'm peaking when the season starts, not showing up to training camp having worked so hard that I'm almost exhausted."

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