Texans’ Offer Changed Bills’ Stefon Diggs Plan

Cutting the cord on a productive but stressful Stefon Diggs period, the Bills are eating the most dead money ever brought on by a wide receiver. They accepted a Texans offer centered around a 2025 second-round pick, effectively resetting at wide receiver during an offseason that had already seen the AFC power part with a few veteran pieces.

The Bills, however, were believed to be planning to keep Diggs for the 2024 season. Despite the headaches the talented wideout had been known to cause, The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia and Dianna Russini indicate GM Brandon Beane had Diggs in his plans — as he had said previously this offseason (subscription required). While decision-makers often backtrack on such statements via subsequent trades, the Bills were still aiming to retain Diggs as his extension years started.

Given the $31.1MM in dead money hitting Buffalo’s 2024 cap sheet, it makes sense the team was moving forward with the perennial Pro Bowler. But the Texans called about the nine-year veteran Tuesday, per The Athletic, and the Bills discussed the deal to the point ownership was brought in on the matter. Buffalo agreed to the terms this morning, sending Diggs to Houston to team with Nico Collins and Tank Dell around C.J. Stroud‘s rookie contract. As the Texans load up around a rookie contract, the Bills are retooling around their veteran QB accord.

While the structure of Diggs’ 2022 extension will put the Bills in a tough spot this year, the team looks to have viewed a future second-rounder — initially a Vikings pick obtained by the Texans last month — as sufficient value for a player who would have been less likely to fetch such an asset as he aged. Diggs will turn 31 this season. Considering Keenan Allen commanded only a fourth-rounder last month, Diggs bringing back a second-round choice — one tied to a Minnesota team that just lost Kirk Cousins — brought decent value for a player who struggled down the stretch of his age-30 season.

Beane said (via the Buffalo News’ Ryan O’Halloran) the Bills are “by no means” taking a step back, but the four-time reigning division champs have moved on from several longtime starters this offseason. They released seven-year safety starter Jordan Poyer, five-year center bastion Mitch Morse and injury-prone All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White. Buffalo also has Micah Hyde, who joined Poyer in being part of Sean McDermott‘s first free agency class, unsigned. The team has a new safety plan, and David Edwards is poised to take over at center. But wide receiver has gone from a top need to a glaring deficiency.

Other Diggs inquiries have come in, Beane said (via ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg), but the Bills — who parted with a package fronted by a 2020 first-round pick — viewed this one as enough to move on. The calls on Diggs date back to last year, with Beane declining to confirm (via the Boston Sports Journal’s Mike Giardi) if the wide receiver requested a trade. The eighth-year GM informed Josh Allen about the prospect of a trade before it was finalized, Getzenberg adds.

This move guts Allen’s receiving corps. Although the Bills saw promising early returns from 2023 first-round tight end Dalton Kincaid, Diggs and Gabe Davis operated as Allen’s Nos. 1 and 2 wideouts for the past two seasons. That came after Davis’ four-TD game in the 2021 divisional round. Diggs delivered two 1,400-plus-yard seasons as a Bill, leading the NFL in receiving yards upon being acquired in 2020. A notable slump took place to close last season.

Diggs did not score a touchdown over the Bills’ final seven regular-season games and averaged just 41.0 yards per game in that span. He closed the year with a three-catch, 21-yard showing against the Chiefs — a game Davis missed — and dropped a well-placed Allen pass on a potential game-winning drive. This may well have convinced Bills management their top wide receiver was no longer worth the trouble.

Diggs’ antics in the past wore on the Bills, per The Athletic’s Tim Graham, who adds the team’s power brokers were ready to move on. Diggs’ various social media posts were an issue in Minnesota as well; hours before the trade, he also fired off a tweet questioning Allen’s value compared to his own. The mercurial receiver has been seen griping on the sideline, and after he stormed out of the team’s locker room following the Bills’ upset loss to the Bengals in last year’s divisional round, a still-unsolved minicamp controversy surfaced after Diggs left the team’s facility last June. That required some careful management from McDermott, Beane and Allen.

Still, the Bills lost a No. 1 target and cap space. Before the savings from the White post-June 1 cut hit, the Bills are down below $4MM in cap space. The team holds the No. 28 overall pick in this year’s draft. After using its top draft asset to acquire Diggs four years ago, the team will almost definitely dive into another WR-heavy draft to address the position with a cheap contract to align with Allen’s $43MM-AAV deal.

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