The Vikings traded Stefon Diggs a little more than two years after he authored the Minneapolis Miracle — a sublime sideline catch and run to improbably win an NFC divisional round game against the Saints as time expired.
In return for the gifted wide receiver, Minnesota received a first-round draft pick it would use to select LSU pass-catcher Justin Jefferson in the 2020 NFL Draft.
As the Vikings continue to struggle offensively this season, that deal looms as a factor in the team’s NFC North slide. Jefferson is showing immense rookie promise, but his consistency might not fully develop for a couple of years. Diggs is in his prime. The team theoretically could have made a separate move to draft Jefferson while keeping Diggs; in other words, the premise Minnesota needed to shed one of its best weapons in order to bring in the rookie is flawed.
That said, Diggs’ relationship with the Vikings broke down last year perhaps beyond possible repair. His five-year, $72 million contract, signed in 2018, also might have played a factor in his exit.
The Vikings are hoping Jefferson can put on a prime time show Sunday night against the Seahawks in the manner Diggs often did.
Below is a further dive into Diggs’ move to Buffalo and Jefferson’s start in Minnesota.
Why did the Vikings trade Stefon Diggs to the Bills?
Diggs regularly voiced frustration about the direction of the Vikings and his role on the team, and his seemingly negative tweet after Minnesota extended Kirk Cousins in March preceded his trade to Buffalo that night. Diggs tweeted “it’s time for a new beginning” after the team announced the Cousins deal.
From a locker room chemistry perspective, then, dealing Diggs made sense. His discontent threatened to make him a problematic presence on a roster reeling from a playoff beatdown against the 49ers.
Diggs, a consecutive 1,000-yard receiver, has since denied forcing his way out of Minnesota.
“I never really was vocal about what I did or didn’t like (in Minnesota),” Diggs told reporters, not acknowledging he skipped practices and told media members while with the Vikings that he “can’t sit up here and act like everything is OK.”
In fairness to Diggs, the situation in Minnesota frustrated several players. Former teammate Adam Thielen, for example, called out Cousins for his deep ball struggles. The Vikings failed to replicate their 2017 success, but Diggs progressed on an individual level.
Stefon Diggs trade details
Buffalo traded the No. 22 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, as well as fourth-round, fifth-round and sixth-round selections. It received a seventh-round pick along with Diggs.
The Vikings used that No. 22 choice on Jefferson.
Was the trade worth its cost for the Bills?
So far, acquiring Diggs has been a masterstroke from Buffalo’s front office. After years of mediocre offensive play, the Bills now have an exciting roster building around quarterback Josh Allen.
The Bills lead the AFC East with a 4-0 record. Diggs has 26 catches for an NFL-best 403 yards and two touchdowns. Allen might be the best quarterback he’s ever played with considering he attended Maryland and spent his first NFL seasons catching passes from Cousins, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum.
Why did Minnesota draft Justin Jefferson?
In another year, Jefferson might have been drafted much higher than No. 22. His availability at that spot largely came down to the depth of top prospects at the position. He made for an ideal fit for Minnesota.
Jefferson delivered a breakout performance in Week 3 (nine catches for 173 yards), and followed up that showing with another strong game this past weekend (five catches for 103 yards). His trajectory could alleviate the hurt of losing Diggs, though Vikings fans are likely wishing they could see a lineup that includes Jefferson, Diggs and Thielen carving through secondaries together.
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