While admitting that it was the right move for the Minnesota Vikings, most Vikings fans/writers have bemoaned the loss of Stefon Diggs and what it means for the Vikings offense moving forward. That having been said, the pain of losing one of the “core” Vikings (who was signed well into the 2020s) was eased a bit when we learned what the Vikings received from the Buffalo Bills for bringing Diggs’ talent to the polar (almost literally) opposite of South Beach.
It was actually the offer, not (just) Diggs’ recent and increased behavior on social media, that convinced the Vikings to pull the trigger on the trade. The Bills essentially and reportedly came out of nowhere with a blockbuster deal, one that could end up blowing up in their face even worse than the Seattle Seahawks’ trade for another mercurial Vikings receiver in Percy Harvin, did last decade.
While those in Buffalo are seemingly enamored with Diggs and thus the move, there are those in the national media who think that the trade was not just bad, but one of the worst moves this off-season. I don’t mean for the Vikings, but rather the Bills, who gave up their 2020 first-round… I’ll just actually let CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin explain:
“The move: Buffalo trades a 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 fifth-round pick, a 2020 sixth-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick to the Vikings for Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick.
Diggs instantly makes Buffalo’s offense better, and he’s still just 26, under contract through 2023. Bills fans should be excited to have him. But there’s no denying the price was steep for a guy who, at best, replicates the role John Brown already plays for Josh Allen. The latter, of course, is notoriously erratic throwing the football, especially on deep balls, so it’s not hard to envision Diggs tossing a helmet or two once he’s spent a year or two outside of the confines of U.S. Bank Stadium. For the first-, fourth- and fifth-rounders the Bills essentially gave up here, they could’ve easily dipped into this year’s deep WR class, gotten a younger, bigger target and built more around their ground game.”
Essentially, they’re pointing out what I did in my article ‘Just Exactly did you have to be Mad About Here, Diggs?’
In that article, I said:
“I can almost guarantee that outside of some sort of massive intervention from those around him, Diggs’ career will follow that of Brown as while Diggs may think that his bad behavior was rewarded and that he now has what he wants, he will soon find that being the guy as opposed to one of the guys means a whole lot more than he’s yet shown he’s capable of delivering.
Or maybe I’m wrong and his dream was always to play in Buffalo with a quarterback who has yet to top 59% completions or more than 3,100 yards passing… Or even an average QB-rating of 86. That he wants to be the guy who is double or tripled and who has a quarterback who is incapable of hitting him in stride down the field.
I guess we’ll find out. But, unfortunately, we’ve seen this story before and… it doesn’t end well. For the player or the team(s) that decreasingly put up with someone who seems to care more about himself than not only his team but really more than anyone.”
Now, to be fair, as other sites have pointed out; Josh Allen might be “erratic” down the field, but he’s at least above average when it comes to short and intermediate passes. While Diggs may be (one of) the best down the field receiver in the NFL, he’s by no means a one-trick pony (which makes replacing him very hard for the Vikings and could nullify the whole “could draft him” argument against the Bills null/ignorant). The reason Diggs is so good down the field is because he runs immaculate routes (not solely because of his top end speed). So, one could argue that he could get open a lot and Allen could hit him a la…
In 2019, Josh Allen's intermediate passing (10-20 yards) was phenomenal on both sides of the field ?
Right-side passer rtg (10-20):
107.7 – Josh Allen
78.6 – NFL Average
— Bills QB Watch (@BillsQBwatch) March 27, 2020
But then again, Diggs wasn’t happy at the amount of deep balls (and all balls) Cousins was sending his way, so if that behavior/reaction continues to be the case in Buffalo?
Either way, it’s pretty safe to say that I’m not alone in thinking that the Bills could be a year-and-a-half away (or sooner) from really, really regretting this move. Sure, it’s not some Herschel Walkerian move (one that essentially handed a dynasty over to the Dallas Cowboys), but they did give up a King’s Ransom (at least by NFL trade standards) for a receiver who:
1) Clearly only cares about himself (see my article, if you really need to freshen up on things we’re all aware of)…
2) Had his best two seasons playing with Kirk Cousins, a quarterback whose down the field accuracy is considered to be near the top of the league (hence Diggs’ status as the best receiver in the league last season at catches of 40 yards or more) but still wasn’t happy despite finally cracking the 1,000-yard mark in 2018 AND 2019, had over 100 grabs in 2018, and had the same amount of touchdowns (15) in the two seasons with Kirk as he had the previous three…
3) Never made a Pro Bowl (ever, even with players getting injured or not playing and coaches filling the ranks afterward), or eclipsed 1,000 yards (until, again, Cousins came to town) but somehow received more in trade compensation than DeAndre Hopkins who has been an All-Pro THREE separate times…
4) Has never had to be THE guy for a full season… Let alone played a full season, although he could’ve in 2019-20 had the Vikings not rested players Week 17)…
We will see how things pan out in Buffalo, but it’s safe to say from the above that the Bills would’ve been far better off trading for Hopkins (or the Vikings would’ve probably been better off trading Diggs for Hopkins, straight up, although it’s clear that the Bills wanted a running back). Sure as we saw from the Harvin trade, picks from trades (or in general) don’t always pan out, even if (as was the case with the player the Vikings selected with the pick from the Harvin trade) that player seems like a future Ring of Honor or even Hall of Fame guy like Xavier Rhodes seemed at one point.
Either way, it does sort of make you feel a bit better knowing that the Vikings received the better end of this deal. However, what would’ve been even better would’ve been a scenario in which Diggs stopped being an asshat and realized that the Vikings paid him like a top receiver in the league (with the final three years of his deal all being $14.5 million per season) despite the above mentioned statistical mediocrity. The Vikings were culpable in that mediocrity, though, as they’ve had a revolving door at both the quarterback and offensive coordinator positions each year-and-a-half (on average).
But when it finally appeared that the Vikings had the continuity and statistical output from the quarterback position (which was reflected in Diggs’ 2018 and 2019 stats), and brought on the most exciting offensive coordinator in over a decade in Gary Kubiak, Diggs not only didn’t stop his behavior, he increased in. In fact, you could argue that he only started all of this nonsense during the Cousins regime.
Cousins and Diggs’ supposed BFF Adam Thielen did start the 2018 season breaking records together, so it might seem like that’s where the obvious rift started (especially as it was directly after the Minneapolis Miracle play in the 2017 NFL Playoffs). But, again, Diggs ended the 2018 season with over 102 grabs on the season (good for 11th best in the league), and the 2019 season with over 1,100 yards.
But, I’m attempting to find logic or rationality in an illogical or irrational situation. When it comes to that, it’s nice to at least know that the Vikings did put a stop to it and also, clearly, received the best possible return on the fifth-round investment that was Diggs. As, especially considering the current state of the defense/offensive line, things could’ve really gone sideways this season and they could’ve ended up dropping Diggs for much, much less (as Diggs’ behavior still most likely hurt his overall trade value… Outside of Buffalo, of course).