Josh Allen's number one option is here to stay. How will it affect the team's future?
CC: Buffalo Fanatics
BUFFALO, N.Y, (Apr, 8, 2022) - After a month of speculation, the Buffalo Bills signed their star wide receiver Stefon Diggs to a four-year extension contract.
This ensures the 28-year-old will stay in Buffalo for four more years after his current contract, which accounts for $38 million total, expires in 2024. The cost of the contract is currently in a debate with ESPN's Adam Schefter rounding the deal to $104 million while NFL writer Ian Rapoport rounded to $96 million.
In a press conference after the signing, Diggs said the position he's in with his teammates made him feel confident to stick with Buffalo long term.
“We got some more experience underneath our belt and moving forward that only can help you,” Diggs said. “You never lose, you only learn. That's what they say. So, moving forward, I like us.”
The Bills acquired Diggs in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings on March 20, 2020. In his first season with the team, Diggs led the NFL with 1535 receiving yards and 127 receptions and broke the Bills franchise record for receiving yards in a season. Diggs earned his first pro-bowl nod as well as a first-team all-pro nod.
The following season, Diggs remained quarterback Josh Allen's top target recording 103 receptions, 1225 receiving yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns. Diggs earned his second pro-bowl nod along with offensive tackle Dion Dawkins.
The team's front office knew their franchise would depend on Allen's development and that he lacked a true number one receiver. Diggs saw the talent in Allen after he faced the Bills in 2018.
“When I was anticipating coming here [in 2020], I knew Josh Allen was a good quarterback,” Diggs said. “I watched him beat us ... and he was just balling like crazy. So, I had confidence in Josh."
Allen and Diggs also worked on building a professional relationship after the trade. At that time, physical interaction fell out of reach with the pandemic, so Diggs had to be creative in getting to know Allen.
"We kind of start playing a little Call of Duty," said Diggs. "That's when I started having more love and appreciation for him."
Since 2020, Allen and Diggs have recorded 230 completions, 2,760 yards and 18 touchdowns. All of which placed in the top three among QB-WR duos. Allen even finished second in MVP voting in 2020, falling only behind Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In September 2021, a friendship issue of Sports Illustrated for kids featured the QB-WR duo on the cover.
Since acquiring Diggs, Allen took major steps in his NFL career and is now considered one of the league's elite. Keeping Diggs in Buffalo gave the Bills the window for Allen and Diggs to make huge plays in the long run. However, getting the money to keep Diggs proved difficult at first.
The team had to create cap space for the Bills to sign Diggs as he's become of Buffalo's best receivers since Stevie Johnson. After star receivers Tyreek Hill and Devantae Adams went to new teams, it became clear no superstar is safe during the offseason. Doug Whaley, who served as the Bills general manager until 2017, said in an interview on Sirius XMNFL that the Bills would be better off trading Diggs to a team that can give him a fair deal.
However, current team general manager Brandon Beane made significant moves to free up cap space, including cutting wide receiver Cole Beasley, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, and offensive guards John Feliciano and Daryl Williams.
Diggs, 28, said he appreciated his time in Buffalo and wanted to retire a Bill.
"I felt like my next spot was my last spot," he said. "I wanted it to be my home and I didn’t ever want to go anywhere."
Diggs spent five seasons with the Vikings, gaining recognition for catching the game winning touchdown to beat the New Orleans Saints in the 2017 NFC divisional round in what became known as the Minneapolis miracle.
However, 20 months later, he had the worst season of his career. Diggs recorded 1130 receiving yards and 63 receptions. Diggs said in a 2020 interview with ESPN this resulted in him being targeted an average four times a game.
"They were kind of gearing towards a run heavy at that time," said Diggs. "I'm not going to say it was a lid on me, but I'm gonna say they would allow me to do so much."
That year, the Vikings had a breakout star in running back Dalvin Cook who recorded 1135 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. After a week four loss to the Chicago Bears, Diggs stopped attending team practice and faced fines of up to $200,000.
Diggs said Vikings management hadn't been honest with him about his role but still had a place in heart for the team.
"Once you don't have trust with the person it's hard to do business," said Diggs. "I love my old team, I have nothing but love and respect for those guys."
Former NFL guard Mark Schlereth said team chemistry plays a big role in a team's success.
"“To me, chemistry is more important than talent," he said. "When a team has the right chemistry, the players forget about individual accolade…Instead, they focus on playing with one another. That is what chemistry is all about.”
Head coach Sean McDermott said Diggs worked to develop positive chemistry with his teammates and create a positive locker room environment.
"I think he’s got a great dynamic with Josh on and off the field, and a lot of the other players in our locker room as well," said McDermott, He works extremely hard at it, and the results are out there.”
Diggs said he intends to keep making steps in his career with the Bills and hopefully help this team win a Super Bowl.
“I wanted to prove why I got paid the first time and this time I’m on another track to where I want to prove it all over again,” Diggs said. “I want to prove that I’m one of the best receivers in the league. I’m a part of one of the best teams in the league, and I’m chasing.”