Before the NFL wide receiver market changed forever with some blockbuster signings and extensions in 2022, one notable trade involving a superstar wideout helped shake up the landscape of the position for the foreseeable future.
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Tracing Back to the Stefon Diggs Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills Swap
Stefon Diggs would’ve never had a chance to sign his mega four-year, $96 million deal with the Buffalo Bills in April 2022 if it weren’t for a bold trade made by the organization.
In March 2020, the Minnesota Vikings pulled a stunner of a move by dealing away their top wideout to the Bills. While with the Vikings, Diggs established himself as a consistent 1,000-yard option, with back-to-back seasons of crossing the century mark proving he was an ascending player and one of the best at his position before his exit.
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Diggs, though, sent off the warning sign on March 16, 2020, that he was on his way out of Minnesota. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for that to become true. That same day, the Vikings made the move to deal him away.
In return, Minnesota earned the No. 22 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, a fifth-rounder in that same class, a sixth-rounder, and a 2021 fourth-round selection. A sizeable haul but a move that saw them lose out on a true playmaker at a premium position.
Why Was the Deal Made To Get Rid of Diggs?
Minnesota’s decision was much more than just money-related. The relationship between the WR and the Vikings showed signs of deteriorating, and things were going south between the two quickly.
Diggs became a reported no-show during meetings and even practices, which led to the team fining him and starting a cycle of contention between the parties. Then, his deal with the Vikings was set to be at $11.5 million for the 2020 season. Diggs was already past the two-year mark of his five-year extension with the team.
That deal was supposed to stretch into 2023. As a result, Buffalo ended up taking on the rest of his salary with an eye for the future.
But then, during a WR market that saw names like Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers, Davante Adams of the Las Vegas Raiders, Terry McLaurin of the Washington Commanders, and Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams all sign huge deals, the Bills rewarded Diggs with his near $100 million contract in the spring of 2022 and put him on par with players of his caliber at his position.
How Have Both Diggs and the Vikings Progressed Since That Trade?
The trade ended up being exactly what Diggs needed.
Since his arrival to Western New York, he’s gone to the Pro Bowl every season in front of Bills Mafia. He’s also caught more than 100 passes in every season, with Josh Allen feeding him the football as they have built a strong connection on the field together.
How have the Vikings fared since the move, though?
Minnesota used that first-round pick 2020 acquired from Buffalo to find their replacement for Diggs, and they certainly did in Justin Jefferson. The exchange between the Vikings-Bills became a rare win-win trade for both teams.
Minnesota replaced one star wide receiver for another and drafted someone who continues to produce at an All-Pro level. However, they’ve only been to the playoffs once since the trade, which came last season in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s debut.
While the move has seemed to work out for them, the ultimate goal has been (and always will be) about making it to and winning in the playoffs.
The Bills, meanwhile, have established themselves as postseason regulars with three straight AFC playoff appearances, including the AFC Championship Game in Diggs’ first season, and are one of the top contenders coming out of the conference year in and year out.