After capping the 2019 season with another first-round playoff exit, the Bills knew they had to do something bold to improve their offense.
They targeted wide receiver Stefon Diggs and made the Minnesota Vikings an offer they couldn't refuse in a trade: Four draft picks over two seasons, including a first-rounder in 2020.
They received more than they ever could have imagined in return.
Not only was Diggs an instant fit, but he would go on to lead the NFL with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards, helping quarterback Josh Allen explode onto the scene as a bona fide MVP candidate.
What's more, the Bills would be first-round playoff losers no more. They rode the Allen-Diggs train all the way to the AFC Championship Game to set the tone for this coming season, which essentially begins with the first practice of training camp on Wednesday.
Hence, Diggs slides in as No. 2 in our projected Most Valuable Bills of 2021. Our No. 1 pick in this day-by-day unveiling of the list leading up to the start of camp will be presented Wednesday.
Spoiler alert: We've already mentioned his name in this story, and it shouldn't come as a surprise.
Diggs being No. 2 on the list shouldn't be, either. His contributions were all the more impressive considering how unbalanced the offense was. The Bills didn't run the ball much or have any kind of a strong tight-end presence. Yet they were an offensive juggernaut that averaged more than 30 points per game.
They threw the ball so much that Diggs wasn't even their only All-Pro receiver. Slot specialist Cole Beasley was a second-team selection after producing career highs of 82 catches, 967 yards and 11.8 yards per reception at age 31.
Diggs played through an oblique injury the entire postseason, catching 20 passes for 311 yards and a pair of touchdowns in their three playoff losses.
Yet his thirst was never quenched, which is why the Bills can expect him to come back stronger in 2021.
"He’s got that dog mentality," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll raved during the offseason program. "He don’t look at what he did in past years. He's just looking to get better this year and try to live up to his own expectations. We have a long, long way to go before we start playing real games, a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of improvement in a lot of areas that you just try to keep on climbing. That’s our goal."
Diggs brought that mindset with him. He didn't need it instilled by the Bills' culture.
He's been so impressive that Dan Hanzus of NFL.com predicts Diggs will be the Bills' MVP in 2021.
"It only took one season for Stefon Diggs to make a strong case as the centerpiece of the Greatest Trade In Bills History. Diggs was uncoverable in his debut season in Western New York, piling up 127 catches for 1,535 yards (both league bests). You can make an argument that Diggs is football’s best wideout, and he returns to an elite offense that brought back its entire core, including fellow MVP candidate Josh Allen. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll loves to air it out, and the unsettled nature of the Bills’ backfield all but ensures Diggs will see something close to the 166 targets funneled his way in 2020."
Totally worth the price.
And then some.