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Ex-Giants, Raiders TE Darren Waller announces retirement after eight NFL seasons

Darren Waller's made his long-anticipated decision, and he's played his last down.

After months of contemplation, Waller has informed the Giants that he is retiring following eight seasons played, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Sunday, per sources informed of the situation.

"I've decided to retire from the game of football," Waller later wrote on Instagram. "To God: what a journey, and thank you. We took it way farther than I ever could have imagined! So grateful for all the ppl I've been able to connect and create memories with along the way. We still got plenty more life left to live. Love you all. Peace."

It was a decision that's hung over the New York Giants tight end -- and the franchise -- since March, when Waller told Dan Duggan of The Athletic that he was planning on making a decision "pretty soon." Among the reasons Waller mentioned as to weighing his future were being fully invested in continuing to play and also lingering health issues.

"We have great respect for Darren as a person and player," the Giants said in a statement on Waller retiring. "We wish him nothing but the best."

As a resolution lingered, it likewise seemed more and more that Waller, who went through a publicized divorce with WNBA player Kelsey Plum and subsequently released a head-scratching music video this year, would not return.

Waller, a one-time Pro Bowler, played for the Ravens, Raiders and Giants, finishing his tenure with 350 receptions, 4,124 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in 86 games.

Acquired by Big Blue ahead of the 2023 campaign, Waller's early returns were good, with reports that he and Daniel Jones had a quick chemistry, and it showed in their preseason debut together. However, the season didn't play out that way, with Waller missing five games and hauling in just one touchdown on 52 catches for 552 yards.

It's an unceremonious end to what was a wonderful tale written by the 31-year-old.

An inspirational story having overcome a battle with drug addiction, Waller began his NFL career with the Ravens as a 2015 sixth-round pick before multiple suspensions for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. However, he triumphantly returned, becoming one of the game's elite tight ends during his time with the Raiders, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2020.

Having turned in a combined 18 receptions and two touchdowns in his first three seasons played (he missed all of 2017 due to suspension) from 2015-2018, Waller burst upon the national radar in 2019. Having been released by the Ravens during the 2018 season, he was quickly signed by the Raiders, but played in only four games.

In his second season in Silver and Black, Waller caught 90 balls for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns, which led to a four-year, $30 million deal. A favorite of then-quarterback Derek Carr, Waller shined in 2020 -- the Raiders' first season in Las Vegas. He hauled in 107 catches for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns.

Waller was held to 11 games in 2021 due to an ankle injury, but he still signed a three-year, $51 million extension in 2022, with the $17 million annual value remaining tops among TEs through his retirement.

However, he played in just eight games in 2022 for the Raiders, this time due to a hamstring injury, and was traded to the Giants the following offseason, with hamstring issues continuing to plague him in Gotham.

Waller was due to count for $14.08 million against the Giants' cap this year. In his place, Daniel Bellinger will likely step in to the starting TE role with New York having also added Jack Stoll and drafted Theo Johnson out of Penn State.

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