The Bills converted $11.7MM of Stefon Diggs‘ base salary into a signing bonus (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Field Yates). In turn, the Bills now have $7.8MM in extra cap space for 2021, though that amount will be pushed onto the 2022 books.
The Vikings signed Diggs to a five-year, $72MM extension in July 2018. However, Diggs’ $14.4MM-per-year salary was too much for Minnesota given their cap crunch. The Bills traded for him last year, surrendering a first-round pick in the swap. The Bills’ thrilling run to the AFC Championship Game probably wouldn’t have happened without Diggs, one of the league’s most exciting wide receivers.
The Bills gave Diggs a small pay bump/advance on his money upon acquiring him, so he was happy to reciprocate this week. Despite all the changes, he remains locked up through 2023 on a manageable contract. Diggs, who won’t turn 28 until November, registered 127 catches and 1,535 receiving yards last year to lead the NFL.
Cole Beasley gutted through a tough injury in the playoffs with his broken fibula, and he wasn’t the only Bills receiver to do so. Buffalo star Stefon Diggs recently revealed he had a torn oblique that he played through at the end of the season, as Ryan Talbot of NewYorkUpState.com writes. Diggs was on the injury report with an oblique issue late in the year, but the team was intentionally vague about what was wrong with him.
Now we know, and it makes Diggs’ playoff performances even more impressive. He shined during the postseason, going for at least 106 yards and a touchdown in each of the Bills’ wins over the Colts and Ravens. It’s a pretty significant injury, but obviously it shouldn’t effect Diggs in 2021.
Here are a couple other nuggets from around the AFC East:
James White ended up back with the Patriots on a one-year, $2.5MM deal after testing the free agent waters, and it sounds like he was anticipating a bit more. After hearing White talk to the media this week, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes that it “seems fair to say free agency didn’t unfold the way he might have envisioned.” In describing his “soft market,” Reiss says White highlighted the league’s salary cap crunch as a result of COVID-19. He adds it “sounded like that was the best offer,” the pass-catching specialist received, so he didn’t take any discount to play for Bill Belichick again.
The Jets just drafted Jamien Sherwood in the fifth-round, and he could be set to make a bigger impact than your typical fifth-round rookie. Sherwood was a linebacker/safety hybrid prospect, but Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes that the Jets “see him as an ideal fit as a weakside linebacker in their 4-3 front” and that “there’s some thought he could emerge as the starter.” Cimini says Sherwood’s draft stock was hurt by the fact that he ran a disappointing 4.74 40-yard dash at his pro day. Sherwood only became a full-time starter for Auburn this past season, his junior campaign, so it’ll be a big leap if he becomes an NFL starter right away.
January 24th, 2021 at 6:46pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Bills’ thrilling run to the AFC Championship Game almost never happened. It’s unlikely Buffalo would’ve made it this far without Stefon Diggs, and they apparently came very close to losing him to a division rival.
Diggs was very nearly traded to the Patriots this past offseason, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. We had heard back in March that the Pats had expressed some interest, but we didn’t know how close they came until now. Rapoport writes that Buffalo and New England were the two finalists, and that the Vikings gave the Patriots a chance to match the Bills’ last offer.
Bill Belichick declined, and the rest is history. Interestingly, Rapoport adds that Minnesota never intended to trade the star wideout, “but had a number in mind of what it would take if it did.” He also writes that the Bills first tried trading for Diggs at the 2019 trade deadline but were rebuffed.
It’s fun to think about what would’ve happened had Belichick landed the top wideout. Diggs was ultimately traded on March 16th, the day before Tom Brady announced he’d be leaving New England. It’s unlikely that would’ve convinced Brady to stay as it seems his mind had been made up, but it would’ve at least given Cam Newton and the passing game a real viable threat in 2020.
Four years remain on Stefon Diggs‘ contract, and the extension the former Vikings wideout agreed to in 2018 now profiles as a Bills-friendly deal. Buffalo, however, worked out an agreement that will pay Diggs more in 2020.
The Bills adjusted Diggs’ contract, with the main change being a $3.3MM 2020 bump, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Diggs will also see his 2021 guarantee spike by $7.7MM, with Garafolo adding that number now sits at $11MM. In tweaking Diggs’ deal, the Bills also decreased the contract’s 2022 and ’23 cash payouts by $3MM.
This restructure was not a Bills decision to help convince Diggs not to opt out this season, Garafolo adds (via Twitter), noting it came to pass in March shortly after Buffalo acquired Diggs from Minnesota.
Diggs said Wednesday he is not demanding a new deal from the Bills, indicating there is “no rush” on that at this point, per the Buffalo News’ Jay Skurski (on Twitter). It should be expected the Bills and Diggs will agree to a new contract at some point, but this adjustment may help delay that. The Bills saw $5.25MM in additional cap room open up after defensive tackle Star Lotulelei‘s opt-out decision.
The Vikings signed Diggs to a five-year, $72MM extension in July 2018. However, Diggs’ $14.4MM-per-year salary now ranks 13th among receivers. The Bills acquired Diggs for a trade package headlined by a first-round pick. Given the importance Diggs will play in the development of Buffalo franchise centerpiece Josh Allen, the sides will presumably huddle up about an extension in the not-too-distant future. For now, though, the Bills have their new No. 1 wide receiver locked up through 2023 on a manageable contract.
The Vikings’ starting lineup will look considerably different this season. After the team kept signing its core members to extensions over the past few offseasons, it dismantled some of that nucleus this year. While the exits of Xavier Rhodes, Linval Josephand Trae Waynes were noticeable, none of Minnesota’s moves registered like the Stefon Diggs deal.
Diggs is Buffalo-bound after the Vikings traded him for a package of picks headlined by this year’s No. 22 overall selection, which became LSU wideout Justin Jefferson. Despite entering another offseason near the salary cap, and with Diggs having created some distractions during his Twin Cities stay, Mike Zimmer said the team was not intent on trading its talented wideout.
“Honestly, Diggs did not have to go,” Zimmer said during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show (via NFL.com). “We really didn’t have any intention of trading him. Quite honestly, he put out a couple tweets, and there were some things going on there. But Stefon worked extremely hard. He practices like crazy. He wants the ball — like all receivers do.
“Really, what happened was, Buffalo came in and gave us all those picks. And we were up against it in the salary cap. So we just felt like we could save some money, get a bunch of picks, maybe get a young receiver like (Jefferson) that we got. So, I wish him well. He’s a good kid. He worked hard for me.”
The Bills sent the Vikings 2020 first-, fifth- and sixth-round picks and a 2021 fourth-rounder for Diggs, who is signed to a $14.4MM-per-year deal through 2023. This haul ended up being similar to the one the Seahawks sent the Vikings for Percy Harvinseven years ago. Seattle dealt first-, third- and seventh-rounders for Harvin in 2013, and the Vikings used the top pick to draft Rhodes. This time, Minnesota used the top acquired asset to fill the void created by the receiver trade, and Jefferson will be tasked with filling Diggs’ spot alongside Adam Thielen.
Buffalo discussed Diggs with Minnesota before last year’s trade deadline, and the Vikings were believed to have softened their asking price when the teams talked again in March. Diggs missed practices last season and was believed to be dissatisfied with his role, leading to trade rumors. This and Diggs’ pre-trade tweets suggesting he was not long for Minnesota notwithstanding, Zimmer did not characterize the five-year Viking as a major problem.
“Really, if you said somebody was a pain in the butt, you probably wouldn’t say him,” Zimmer said. “I’ve been around way worse guys than him. I hope he has a great career and finishes up strong.”
The Vikings broke up their years-long receiver tandem of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, shipping the latter to Buffalo for a package of picks. While the Vikings did not collect quite the haul they did for Percy Harvin seven years ago, Rick Spielman called it a business opportunity that benefited both Diggs and the Vikings (Twitter link via the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling). Spielman said he did not intend to trade Diggs when he last spoke at the Combine, but the Bills’ offer of a first-round pick and three Day 3 choices — including a 2021 fourth-rounder — was too enticing to pass up. The Bills also upped their offer from their previous one, which occurred before the 2019 deadline. The Vikings now hold the Nos. 22 and 25 overall picks in a receiver-loaded draft, and they now have a massive need at the position.
Here is the latest from the NFC North:
Two years ago, the Lionsnearly traded forRob Gronkowski. Now that a team has actually swung a trade for the dominant tight end, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com provided the details (via Twitter) on the disparities between the Buccaneers and Lions’ offers. They are stark. The Lions offered the Pats their 2018 first-rounder (No. 20 overall) and were set to swap picks in the second round (dropping from No. 43 to 51) before the then-29-year-old tight end nixed the deal by threatening to retire. The Lions ended up picking Frank Ragnow in the first round; Gronkowski collected a third Super Bowl ring 10 months later and then retired. The Pats dealt the unretiring Gronk and a seventh-round pick to the Bucs for a fourth-rounder on Tuesday.
Everson Griffen remains unsigned and is “probably” gone from the Vikings, but the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson notes if Minnesota does not land a pass rusher in the draft it is not out of the question the 10-year veteran returns (Twitter link). Griffen issued a statement indicating an 11th Vikings season was not in the cards, but Tomasson indicates (via Twitter) he merely wanted to inform other teams he was available and not a lock to return to Minnesota. Griffen’s mental health episode in 2018 may well be impacting his free agency, with Tomasson tweeting teams would like to meet with him and discuss it. The 32-year-old edge defender will likely have to reassess his options after the draft.
Another year, another Bears kicking competition. After a very public kicker battle throughout the 2019 offseason, the Bears will hold another this year. Incumbent Eddy Pineiro will match up against lower-profile challenger Ramiz Ahmed, Ryan Pace confirmed (via the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jason Lieser). The Bears signed Ahmed, who kicked at Nevada for one season and has yet to kick in an NFL game, last week but had their eye on him as a UDFA last year. A late addition last summer, Pineiro made 23 of 28 field goals with the Bears last season.
Though Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoahas most commonly been connected to the division-rival Dolphins, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe believes the stars are aligning for the Patriots to make a play for the southpaw passer. The Lions — and all of their New England connections — hold the No. 3 overall pick and will have a major impact on how the quarterback dominoes fall in this year’s draft. If Detroit trades down, as many expect, Volin suggests that New England’s No. 23 overall pick along with a mid-rounder and a veteran player like Julian Edelman could be enough to get a deal done. The Patriots’ ties with Alabama head coach Nick Saban would also help give the team a little more insight into Tagovailoa as a player and as a person.
Let’s round up a few more AFC East rumors on another stay-at-home Sunday:
One way or another, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the Patriots will draft a rookie signal-caller. While he does not rule out a dramatic move for a player like Tagovailoa, he also says the team could once again target a mid-round prospect and is eyeing FIU passer James Morgan.
WR StefonDiggs sounded like a man who wanted out of Minnesota for awhile, and he finally got his wish when he got traded to the Bills in March. However, his displeasure with the Vikings had more to do with his role in the offense than his contract; he signed a five-year, $72MM extension last summer, and he still has another four years to go on that pact. Still, the contract looks fairly team-friendly in the current market, so Buffalo GM Brandon Beane was recently asked if Diggs is content with his deal. Beane side-stepped the issue, saying simply that Diggs is “happy to be in Buffalo” (Twitter link via Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News). It would indeed be rather surprising to see the Bills rework a contract that has four years remaining.
Rich Cimini of ESPN.com confirms that Jets guard Brian Winters, who was presumed to be a cap casualty not that long ago, will remain with the Jets and will compete for a job in training camp. Cimini says that if Winters does not win a starting role, he will likely be asked to take a pay cut.
Once again, the Jets have a need at wide receiver. Robby Anderson‘s free agency departure expanded the void Gang Green features at this position.
Prior to the Jets losing Anderson to the Panthers, they were one of the teams to explore trades for DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs. Joe Douglas confirmed Wednesday the Jets did their due diligence on Hopkins and Diggs, per The Athletic’s Connor Hughes (via Twitter).
Both surfaced in trade rumors midway through last month and were gone within hours of said rumors. The Cardinals sent the Texans a package highlighted by a second-round pick and David Johnson — a deal that shocked the league — and the Bills pried Diggs away from the Vikings for a first-rounder and a host of Day 3 picks. The Vikings reduced their Diggs asking price over the past several months. The Patriots also showed interest in Diggs; the Bills landing him stands to increase their chances to win the AFC East.
The Jets did add Breshad Perriman as an Anderson replacement, doing so at a much cheaper rate, and still have Jamison Crowder in the slot. Quincy Enunwa‘s status is up in the air, Douglas confirmed (Twitter link via Hughes), after he missed 15 games last season because of a neck injury. Enunwa missing the entire 2017 slate because of a neck malady obviously puts his career in jeopardy.
This impacted the Texans’ trade, with Albert Breer of SI.com adding that Hopkins wanted a raise instead of an extension. He is under contract through 2022 — on a $16.2MM-per-year deal that has dropped from first to eighth among wide receivers. Hopkins had also become a bit of a locker room issue in Houston, per Breer, who adds that the Texans may have been reluctant to reward the 27-year-old star because of the message it would have sent. This process came as a bit of a surprise to the Cardinals, whom Breer notes did not engage in Hopkins discussions with the Texans at the Combine.
Here is the latest from the wideout front, moving first to last week’s other big trade:
Months before the Bills pulled the trigger on a Stefon Diggs trade, they were interested in doing so before last year’s deadline. The Bills called the Vikings on several occasions about Diggs’ availability last year, Breer reports, but Minnesota insisted on keeping him. The Bills reached out about an hour after an ominous Diggs tweet that emerged shortly after the Hopkins trade, Breer adds. Last year, the Vikings wanted either two first-rounders or first- and second-round picks for Diggs, but Breer notes they loosened their asking price when the Bills called last week. Although the Vikings mentioned the 2013 Percy Harvin trade — in which the Seahawks dealt first-, third- and seventh-rounders for the then-standout wideout — as a starting point, they ended up accepting a first-rounder and no Day 2 picks for Diggs.
The Raiders are likely to use Nelson Agholor as their punt returner, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). While Agholor has only returned three punts in five NFL seasons, he was an accomplished return man at USC. He totaled four punt-return touchdowns between his sophomore and junior years with the Trojans. The Raiders traded for Trevor Davis to return punts last year but waived him later in 2019.
Chris Moore‘s Ravens contract expired last week, but the team remains interested in keeping him. The Ravens have engaged in talks about re-signing the free agent wide receiver, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic tweets. Although Moore is not a big factor in Baltimore’s passing game, he is valued as a special-teamer. A new deal would likely cost close to the league minimum.
During the legal tampering period’s first day, the Patriots were one of the teams to express interest in Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs. The Pats discussed Diggs with the Vikings last Monday, Albert Breer of SI.com notes.
Diggs’ tweet about a change of scenery being on the horizon indeed sparked discussions between the Vikings and Bills, per Breer, but the Pats were involved as well. Their interest, however, cooled because of their decision to use their franchise tag on Joe Thuney, Breer adds, noting that Tom Brady‘s increasingly likely departure made the need for a veteran wideout of Diggs’ caliber make less sense.