Star Raiders tight end Darren Waller has reportedly been seeking a new contract since the start of training camp. With about two weeks until the start of the 2022 season, he still doesn’t have one. And now he doesn’t have an agent, either. While recovering from a hamstring injury, Waller has left Klutch Sports Group, according to Sports Business Journal.
The Pro Bowl pass catcher only joined Klutch in September of last year, adding Damarius Bilbo and Kelton Crenshaw as representation, per NFL Media. After leaving Klutch, which most notably represents NBA star LeBron James, Waller will be required by NFL Players Association rules to wait at least five days before signing with a new agent.
The split could be a byproduct of Waller’s failure to strike a new deal with the Raiders, though new coach Josh McDaniels has had nothing but public praise for the veteran, highlighting his involvement with the team ahead of the season. Waller is technically under contract through 2023 as part of a four-year, $30 million extension signed in 2019. But he’s due just $6.8M in 2022, and $7M on the final year of the deal, making him roughly the 17th-highest-paid player at his position in terms of average annual earnings.
Considering Waller has been the Raiders’ most reliable pass catcher and one of the NFL’s best tight ends when healthy, it’s possible the former Ravens backup is seeking at least $13 million to $15 million per year on a long-term extension — an average payout equivalent to the current highest-paid tight ends.
He is, however, coming off a season in which he missed six games due to ankle and knee injuries and has missed extensive practice time this month due to a hamstring issue. McDaniels, for what it’s worth, recently told reporters he’s “not concerned” about Waller’s condition but would not commit to the tight end suiting up for the regular-season opener on Sept. 11.
“He’s doing everything he can to get out there as soon as he can be,” McDaniels said, per The Athletic. “And I don’t want to make a prediction on whether he will or won’t be ready here in a few weeks. I see him every day. He’s in every meeting. He’s doing everything he can to get out there as fast as possible. … He’s working his butt off. He knows that he’s going to be a big part of this team and what we want to do.”