The Forgotten Ingredient of the Stefon Diggs Trade

Stefon Diggs
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It was quite shocking when the Vikings dealt star player Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills in the 2020 offseason. Cryptic tweets and borderline diva behavior irritated fans, and some of them were happy when he was gone, although leading to a massive hole in the offense with Adam Thielen as the only capable receiver.

The Forgotten Ingredient of the Stefon Diggs Trade

The Forgotten Ingredient of the Stefon Diggs Trade
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With the first-round pick the Vikings received as compensation for the trade, general manager Rick Spielman hit the jackpot when he added Justin Jefferson in the draft, and it took him about three weeks to fill the void, becoming one the most prolific wideouts and brightest stars the game has to offer.

Since the very beginning, everyone titled the transaction as a win-win. The Bills entered a win-now mode with Josh Allen’s emergence and needed a stud receiver to help him. Minnesota, meanwhile, needed to save cap space and tried to get a younger and cheaper player. Both sides were happy with it once Jefferson turned out to be good.

However, Jefferson has been the more productive player since that day. He has more left in the tank and has been playing on a bargain rookie deal. Diggs has looked like a shadow of himself recently and is still under contract for four more seasons–four expensive seasons. Not ideal for a receiver on the wrong side of 30.

In addition, the Vikings have landed another solid player in the deal.

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They also acquired Camryn Bynum in the fourth round in 2021, as well as Kenny Williekes and Janarius Robinson, but those guys are afterthoughts. The Bills, meanwhile, also drafted Dane Jackson with capital from the trade, and he is a solid player for them.

But Bynum is on a trajectory to be a starter on Minnesota’s defense for many years to come. He was inserted into the lineup in 2022 but struggled in his first full-time season. Perhaps the scheme of defensive coordinator Ed Donatell wasn’t a particularly good fit, or he just lacked some necessary experience.

Things changed when Brian Flores entered the building and implemented his system. Bynum didn’t only turn into a serviceable player who deserves a starting role. He became a silver lining of the defensive unit, a guy who could be a foundational piece in Minnesota’s defensive group for years.

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The safety appeared in all 17 games, catching two interceptions and forcing three fumbles. He also logged 137 combined tackles, the most among all defensive backs in the NFL. His durability is mind-boggling as he played every single snap in 2022 and followed that campaign up with 1,122 plays on defense, missing only a single one injury-related.

His grade from Pro Football Focus highlights his development, as he was ranked 68th of 88 eligible safeties in 2022 but was boosted to 21st of 96 safeties in 2023. He has also received a vote for the All-Pro team.

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Bynum has his starting role secured, but he might play next to another safety with Harrison Smith contemplating retirement following his 12th season with the Vikings. Josh Metellus has also shined in his do-it-all role.

If he becomes Bynum’s running mate as the second safety on the field, they would be a wonderful duo, with Bynum as the free safety playing a deep role and Metellus helping in the box. The Vikes also employ Lewis Cine, who was supposed to snatch the starting gig from Bynum at some point, but the first-rounder has disappointed and has barely any chance to overtake Bynum at this point.

The former Cal cornerback will turn 26 in July, and he surely wants to stack another decent season on his breakout 2023 campaign.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt