Giants GM: TE Darren Waller still undecided; draft trade talk ‘surprising’

New York Giants tight end Darren Waller continues to contemplate retirement and general manager Joe Schoen has not given the 31-year-old a deadline for his decision.

Schoen said Thursday at a pre-draft press conference the Giants are giving Waller the time and space he requested to deliberate whether to re-invest in the physical and emotional toll required to continue his NFL career.

The Giants could consider a tight end in the draft with Georgia’s Brock Bowers standing out as the top talent at the position.

But Schoen sounded more inclined to weigh trade options because of the number of holes the Giants have on the roster.

With Waller’s future up in the air, wide receiver Darius Slayton also is avoiding voluntary workouts and reportedly seeking a new contract. Schoen said Thursday the Giants understand the business side and said the situation serves as a reminder the team work in April is “voluntary.”

“I understand where he’s coming from. That’s his prerogative,” Schoen said.

The Giants hosted multiple wide receivers on “top 30” visits including likely top-10 picks Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State, Malik Nabers of LSU and Rome Odunze of Washington. All three visited New Jersey on the same day in March.

Recent additions at wide receiver have produced underwhelming results. The Giants traded 2021 first-round receiver Kadarius Toney — a selection made by the front office preceding Schoen’s arrival — and parted with big-ticket free agent Kenny Golladay in 2022.

Roster needs are plentiful entering 2024. They could include quarterback and running back. Daniel Jones is coming off of neck surgery and Saquon Barkley bolted for the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent.

If it comes down to trading out of the No. 6 spot to stockpile picks, Schoen said the number of calls from teams inquiring about that pick has been a surprise.

New York also is making calls of its own.

Schoen said the Giants’ “expectation” is for Jones to return as the team’s starter, even as reports of the team’s interest in prospects at the position gain steam.

“I’ve still got a lot of confidence in Daniel,” Schoen said. “He’s here all the time. We’ve got a good relationship.”

Reports indicate the Giants also are looking into moving up. Schoen didn’t confirm on Thursday but did admit he’s aware the teams with the top three picks — Chicago, Washington and New England — aren’t “inclined to move right now.”

“I don’t think anybody’s ready to move right now, I know people are listening,” Schoen said.

Waller, who will turn 32 in September, caught 52 passes for 552 yards and one touchdown in 12 games (11 starts) last season with New York.

The Giants signed tight ends Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz in free agency.

Waller is due a base salary of $10.5 million in 2024. He signed a three-year, $51 million contract extension with the Las Vegas Raiders in September 2022. New York acquired him from Las Vegas in March 2023 for a third-round pick in the 2023 draft.