What a day for Bills fans

With Stefon Diggs coming and Tom Brady going, let's talk about an AFC East title

Howard Simon
March 17, 2020 - 4:24 pm
Stefon Diggs

Photo: Kelley L Cox - USA TODAY Sports

Quite a week, huh?

First and foremost, please exercise caution and follow the suggestions/recommendations in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. It is an adjustment for sure, but it is one all of us need to make to keep family members, friends, co-workers and the general population safe. 

Given everything that is going on across the globe as a result of the pandemic, I was surprised the NFL didn’t postpone the start of the league year, but thank goodness they didn’t. Without any games, we are starved for sports news, and coverage of the legal tampering period was just what I needed to pick up my spirits. I was living on Twitter and locked in to the NFL Network and ESPN on Monday. I just didn’t stay up late enough for the huge Buffalo Bills news.

First off, congratulations to Bills general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott, aka "McBeane". After taking their first year on the job to see exactly what they had and how much they needed, the pair have executed a plan of identifying their needs, targeting the players and going out and getting them. With the planned acquisition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings, "McBeane" just crossed off the No. 1 item on their offseason to-do list. 

One year ago the Bills' brain trust knew it had to overhaul the offense, and did just that except for Josh Allen and Dion Dawkins. While the offense was better than it was in 2018, it still wasn’t anywhere near what it needs to be to go where the franchise hasn’t gone in more than 25 years. Beane has talked about the need to score more points and he’s 100% correct. The Bills lacked an explosive, game breaking, difference maker on offense until Monday night when they finalized the deal with Minnesota.

Diggs is the piece they were missing - a receiver who can beat guys one-on-one, but can also make contested catches. A guy you can count on even though he might be (and will be) double-teamed. A speed guy, a deep threat, a receiver who can be moved around, who can run the full route tree and who has football smarts. Diggs covers it all. Diggs averaged 73 catches for 924 yards and six touchdown passes over five years as a Viking, where his quarterbacks were Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Kirk Cousins.

According to Pro Football Focus, Diggs has the best contested catch rate (61%) in the league since 2017. Pro Football Focus also says Diggs was the best deep ball guy in the league last season. In targets of 20-plus air yards, the 26-year-old led the NFL in both catch rate (57%) and yards per-target (24). He was tied for first in touchdowns with five. Hopefully Diggs will be the guy that unlocks Allen’s deep passing game because it was awful last season. 

Diggs’ presence will make life better for Allen and make life easier for John Brown, whose numbers dropped over the course of last season when he became the main focus of the opponents' pass defense. Diggs, Brown, Cole Beasley, Dawson Knox and Devin Singletary should be one of the top quintets in the league this season. 

Diggs also comes with a terrific contract, although I’m guessing at some point he will want to re-negotiate. Diggs has four years left on a deal that pays him an average of $14 million per-year, which, based on his production and some of the receiver salaries that will be handed out this offseason, is extremely good value.

If you think the Bills gave up too much to get Diggs, don’t worry about it.

Don’t compare it to what Arizona gave up to get DeAndre Hopkins because that was laughable. The Houston Texans should never let Bill O’Brien make another trade.

Not having the first round pick might hurt if the Bills were going to take an edge rusher at that spot since the depth at that position isn’t as strong as receiver. But if you wanted the Bills to use that first rounder on a receiver, you would have been hoping that player could eventually turn into the type of receiver Diggs is right now.

If you didn’t think it going into the offseason, the Diggs move proves the Bills are going all-in on getting their first AFC East division title since 1995. That would have been the case whether Tom Brady opted to leave the New England Patriots or not. The news about Brady, coming on the heels of the Diggs story, made this the happiest offseason day for the Bills since the Super Bowl years.

I can’t wait for the start of the season. Hopefully it starts on time.

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