Darren Waller retires from NFL after forgettable Giants season

The brief and unproductive pairing of Darren Waller and the Giants came to an unceremonious and predictable end when the erstwhile tight end did what was expected and informed the team of his retirement from the NFL on Sunday, The Post confirmed.

Thus ends a one-season stay for Waller with the Giants, an interlude that was entirely forgettable.

He was supposed to be a big-play weapon in the passing game but the Giants in 2023 were inept in that department and Waller could not rise above the dysfunction his team put on the field.

Darren Waller is retiring from the NFL after one season with the Giants. Getty Images

Waller, 31, alerted the Giants months ago that he was considering leaving the game. He stayed away from the offseason workout program this spring and was nowhere to be seen for the 10 organized team activity practices. That work was all voluntary, although the Giants had strong attendance, with every player taking part in some or most of the activities.

With the arrival on Tuesday of the two-day mandatory minicamp, Waller felt the time was right to inform the Giants of a decision the front office and coaching staff anticipated would lead to a parting of the ways.

Walking away comes with considerable financial loss for Waller, who forfeits his $10.5 million in salary for the 2024 season. Waller was signed through the 2026 season. His exit allows the Giants to gain $11.6 million on the salary cap, absorbing a dead-money hit of $2.5 million.

This was a big swing, and, as it turns out, a miss for general manager Joe Schoen, who in March of 2023 sent a third-round draft pick to the Raiders for Waller. It was the draft pick Schoen acquired from the Chiefs for wide receiver Kadarius Toney, a 2021 first-round pick of the previous Giants regime.

The hope was Waller could approach the form he showed in 2019 and ’20 (a total of 197 receptions for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns) with the Raiders and that he was over and done with the chronic hamstring issues that arose in 2021 and ’22.

It did not happen.

The Giants acquired Darren Waller from the Raiders in a trade last offseason. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Waller in 12 games had 52 catches for 552 yards and only one touchdown. He missed five games with another hamstring injury.

Schoen admitted the likelihood of Waller retiring was a factor in the Giants selecting tight end Theo Johnson out of Penn State in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft. In free agency, two veteran tight ends were signed — Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz. Daniel Bellinger, with 23 starts the past two seasons, returns, as does Lawrence Cager and Tyree Jackson. Johnson at 6-foot-6 and 257 pounds is an inviting target and the expectation is he will receive plenty of playing time early in his rookie season.

This is a turbulent time for Waller. He recently finalized his divorce from WNBA star Kelsey Plum after only one year of marriage. Waller, an aspiring music performer and rapper, recently addressed the breakup in a new single called “Who Knew (Her Perspective). Last year, Waller released his second rap album, “Walking Miracle.’’

Darren Waller recently got divorced from his ex-wife Kelsey Plum, a star on the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. Michelle Farsi/New York Post

Waller has been open about his past struggles with drugs, alcohol and his mental health.

Following the 2023 season, Waller expressed to individuals in the Giants organization that he was contemplating retirement, sources told The Post. The Giants’ front office, initially, was not aware of this.

The team now moves on without a player who is gone, quickly, without making a trace of impact for the franchise.

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