Big Move, Big Blue
NFL Roundup: Giants Deal For Waller; Ekeler Wants Out Of L.A.
The New York Giants have made a big-time splash, trading for Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller from the Las Vegas Raiders.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 14, 2023
The NFC East rival made a major upgrade to their offense on the same week that the Philadelphia Eagles lost three defensive starters in free agency.
Waller, despite multiple down years in 2021 and ‘22, can still produce like a top tight end in the NFL when healthy. His best season came in 2020, finishing in first among all tight ends with 107 for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns.
The caveat is “when healthy,” missing 14 games in the last two seasons.
The Giants, after locking up QB Daniel Jones long-term and franchise tagging RB Saquon Barkley, now have the reliable pass-catching target they were desperately lacking despite a playoff victory in 2022.
Giants offensive coordinator and play caller Mike Kafka now has the option to utilize his new receiving tight end in a similar way to the Chiefs used Travis Kelce, where Kafka served as the team’s passing game coordinator.
In September of 2022, Waller signed a three-year extension with Las Vegas that made him the highest paid tight end in the NFL.
Just six months later, the Raiders decided to cut him loose for just a third-round draft choice.
Despite not yet being an official member of the New York Jets, Aaron Rodgers is already taking command over the direction of the offense.
Aaron Rodgers has provided the NY Jets with a wish-list of free agents he would like them to target and acquire, per sources.
It includes Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Marcedes Lewis and….Odell Beckham Jr.
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) March 14, 2023
The group of pass-catching targets is very familiar with the four-time MVP quarterback, with most spending much of their career by his side.
Allen Lazard is the first shoe to drop, officially agreeing to a four-year $44 million deal with the Jets.
The undrafted rookie from 2018 is coming off of a career-best year with Rodgers under center, catching 788 yards with six touchdowns after a role increase to fill the void of the loss of DeVante Adams. Lazard also provides solid run blocking.
No receiver is more familiar with the future hall-of-famer than Randall Cobb. The 32-year-old has spent 10 of his 12 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, serving as a reliable target in the slot, with 53 total touchdown receptions during his steady career.
Two-time All-Pro WR Odell Beckham Jr., out of the league since tearing his ACL in the February 2022 Super Bowl, is the only target listed that has not yet played with Rodgers. Yet, the two still share a strong bond, with Rodgers publicly commenting his desire to one day play with one another.
The influence of Rodgers on the Jets offense has been apparent ever since the hiring of Nathaniel Hackett, Packers offensive coordinator for two MVP campaigns, as the team’s new OC back in February.
With a strong and youthful defense that finished fourth in the NFL in points allowed, along with 2022 first-round draft picks and rookie standouts Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall on offense, New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas sees an opportunity to strike and build a championship contender.
The top running back to switch teams this offseason may not come from the free agent market, but rather through trade.
The Los Angeles Chargers have given permission to RB Austin Ekeler to seek a trade following a lack of progress in a new contract extension.
Chargers granted permission to RB Austin Ekeler today to seek a trade after the two sides failed to make progress for a new contract, per his agent Cameron Weiss.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2023
The 27-year-old is a multifaceted weapon in the backfield, making his mark both on the ground and catching targets.
While Ekeler has yet to reach the 1,000 yards rushing mark, he is a touchdown machine, with 38 combined from receiving and rushing over the past two seasons.
– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com