Since the beginning of the 2019 season, Darren Waller has been a star for the Raiders. He has been completely dominant, functioning as the team’s No. 1 passing option from the tight end spot.
Heading into the 2021 season, the Raiders are relying on Waller not only to replicate his success from the past two seasons but to be even better. Without him, this team has no chance to sniff the playoffs and they need him to play like an All-Pro level to compete.
In a recent piece by Bill Barnwell of ESPN, he named some of the most irreplaceable players in the NFL. For the Raiders, it was Waller as no one else in the offense can carry the passing game workload as he can. Here is what Barnwell had to say about the Pro Bowl tight end:
“The best move from the Jon Gruden-era Raiders was acquiring Waller, who has emerged as one of the most valuable players in all of football. Over the past two years, the only tight end in Travis Kelce’s neighborhood has been the Vegas star. They rank 1-2 in receptions and receiving yards, and No. 3 (George Kittle) is 64 receptions and 654 yards behind Waller. The Raiders have high hopes for Henry Ruggs and their wideouts, but there’s no way they could lose Waller without suffering a significant hit.”
The Raiders do like third-year tight end Foster Moreau quite a bit, but he is more of a do-it-all player rather than a focal point of the offense. If Waller were to miss time, the Raiders would have to drastically shift their philosophy on offense to more of a run-first offense with very little passing.
Las Vegas can ill afford to lose Waller this season and they know that. They are crossing their fingers that he can stay healthy and help lead them back to the playoffs.