Bills add WR Diggs in trade with Vikings
By John Wawrow
AP Sports Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Stefon Diggs is headed to the Buffalo Bills in a splashy trade intended to boost quarterback Josh Allen’s development.
Buffalo acquired the big-play receiver and a seventh-round draft pick from the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for four draft picks, a person with direct knowledge of the move confirmed to The Associated Press late Monday night.
The Bills agreed to give up their first-round selection this year (22nd overall) and three other picks to land a fifth-year player who has topped 1,000 yards receiving in each of the past two seasons, the person said. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the trade cannot be completed until the start of the new league year Wednesday.
The deal was first reported by FoxSports.com.
The Vikings will also get Buffalo’s fifth- and sixth-round draft picks this year, and a fourth-round choice in next year’s draft.
In Diggs, the Bills provide Allen with an established wideout on an offense that finished 24th in the NFL in yards gained last season, and 26th in yards passing. Allen enters his third season still attempting to address questions regarding his accuracy that have followed since being selected in the first round of the 2018 draft.
Though Allen showed promising signs of improvement in leading the Bills to a 10-6 record and their second playoff berth in three years last season, he went 271 of 461 for 3,089 yards passing to finish 32nd in the NFL with a 58.8 completion percentage.
Diggs’ arrival comes a year after the Bills upgraded their group of receivers by signing Cole Beasley and John Brown in free agency. Brown led the team with 72 catches for 1,060 yards, becoming Buffalo’s first receiver to top 1,000 yards since Sammy Watkins in 2015.
Overall, Diggs has 365 catches for 4,623 yards and 30 touchdowns in 70 career games. His six touchdowns receiving last year would have put him tied with Brown and Beasley for the team lead.
The move is a blockbuster for Bills general manager Brandon Beane, who has avoided making big splashes in free agency or when it comes to acquiring high-profile players via trade during his previous three seasons on the job.
Beane began this offseason by tamping down expectations in saying, “I don’t think we’re one player away,” when specifically asked about the team’s need to obtain another established receiver.
Beane did stress one point at the NFL’s rookie combine in Indianapolis last month by saying the one thing the Bills need to improve upon is scoring. Buffalo finished 23rd in the NFL in points, and scored 20 or more just seven times.
Diggs, 26, has four years and approximately $47.5 million remaining on his current contract, an extension worth more than $73 million that he signed with Minnesota in 2018.
Last season, Diggs had a career-high 1,130 yards receiving, with four of his six touchdowns covering 40-plus yards. That big-play total tied for the second-most in the league, and his average of 17.9 yards per reception ranked fourth in the NFL among players with a qualifying amount of catches.
Diggs was one of the testaments to Minnesota’s ability to find value in the back of the draft. He was a fifth-round pick in 2015 out of Maryland whose stock fell due to injury and attitude concerns.
He mostly stayed out of trouble with the Vikings, making the biggest name for himself in the playoffs after the 2017 season with his last-play touchdown catch to beat New Orleans in what became known as the “Minneapolis Miracle.”
Fiercely competitive, like many of his peers at his position across the game, Diggs more than once could be seen storming around the sideline after a failed possession by the offense. As wide receiver Adam Thielen and running back Dalvin Cook also flourished as go-to players and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer remained steadfast in his desire to have a strong, consistent running game, there were only so many opportunities for Diggs to get his hands on the ball.
After a dispiriting defeat at Chicago in 2019 that left the Vikings at 2-2, Diggs skipped two days of team activities out of frustration and drew more than $200,000 in fines. After returning, however, he produced some of the finest performances of his career and helped the Vikings return to the playoffs and win at New Orleans in the wild-card round.
This offseason, though, his steady stream of cryptic tweets suggested all was not calm in his corner. Earlier on Monday, several hours before news of the trade broke, Diggs tweeted it was “time for a new beginning.”
Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman both downplayed the possibility of a Diggs trade at the NFL combine last month.
“There’s no reason — the rumors or whatever you’re talking about — to anticipate that Stefon Diggs is not going to be a Minnesota Viking,” Spielman said.