Raiders TE Darren Waller leaves Klutch Sports

According to Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Raiders tight end Darren Waller left Klutch Sports, the agency founded by NBA superstar LeBron James and his close friend, Rich Paul. Waller signed with Klutch less than a year ago.

Waller’s move is particularly noteworthy because of his contract status. The 30-year-old future player is expected to earn unsecured base salaries of $6.25 million in 2022 and 23, and given his elite performance and importance to the Raiders’ offense, he’s understandably been mentioned as a candidate. for a new contract earlier this year.

Later reports suggested that an extension for Waller is a “priority” for Las Vegas, and we heard in June that a deal was “imminent” (although that June report also indicated the team could try to postpone the deal until 2023, and since clubs generally don’t like to negotiate contracts with players who still have several years of control over the club, this could well be the case).

Waller showed up to training camp on time, but is struggling with a hamstring injury and has only practiced once since July 30. The fact that the illness is considered minor has led to speculation that Waller’s absence is more a function of his contract situation than his health, although there is nothing to substantiate these rumors at this stage.

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that Waller has decided to change representation at a time when he is looking to sign the most lucrative contract of his career. The extension he signed in October 2019 was something of a gamble on the part of the Raiders, as the former Ravens sixth-round pick was suspended multiple times during his stint in Baltimore for policy violations. of the league in substance abuse, including one year. -long ban in 2017. The Raiders removed him from the Ravens taxi team in November 2018, and they handed him his current contract, a deal worth around $7.5 million a year, after a few performances encouraging to open the 2019 season.

During the 2019-20 campaigns, Waller rewarded the team’s faith in him by averaging just under 100 catches for 1,170 yards. Although the 2021 season saw him miss time with a knee injury, the Georgia Tech product ranks second in tight ends in catches and yards over the past three years, behind the only star of the Chiefs. Travis Kelce.

The club’s remaining control, along with last year’s knee injury and current hamstring issue, could prevent a deal being struck this summer. But assuming there are no long-term health concerns, Waller will no doubt aim for the top of the tight market, which is currently being paced by George Kittle$15 million AAV and $40 million in practical guarantees. He has to wait until Wednesday to hire a new agent, and Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio learns the plan is to retain super agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Such a hire would seem to indicate that Waller has no intention of waiting until 2023 to see his name at or near the top of TE’s pay scale.

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