Here we are again, talking about Stefon Diggs trade rumors.
Back in early October, this was the hot topic. Diggs was clearly frustrated with his role in the team's new offense during a 2-2 start, and he expressed that in several ways. He displayed his emotions on the sideline, made cryptic posts on social media, and then straight-up skipped multiple days of work, which resulted in him being fined over $200,000. After going roughly two weeks without speaking to the media, Diggs gave a bizarre press conference where he said multiple times that "there's truth to all rumors."
Of course, nothing ended up happening. The passing game took off during the Vikings' 8-2 stretch beginning in Week 5, including three straight games of over 140 receiving yards for Diggs. He posted career-highs in yards (1,130) and yards per catch (17.9) as one of the best deep threats in the league. He caught a touchdown in the divisional round loss to the 49ers. All was normal, for the most part.
Now we're back. As a critical offseason for the Vikings has gotten underway, Diggs' name has once again popped up in all kinds of rumors. There's been endless speculation about whether or not the Vikings would consider trading the enigmatic Diggs, who some see as expensive and unnecessary in a run-first offense.
Let's make one thing clear: if the Vikings traded Stefon Diggs, they would be making a grave mistake.
The perception that fuels many of these rumors is that Diggs is unhappy in Minnesota and would prefer to be in a pass-heavy offense. Additionally, there's the idea that Mike Zimmer and the Vikings aren't pleased with Diggs having a bit of a diva-receiver personality, which manifests itself in sideline outbursts and mysterious tweets.
Both of those sentiments are entirely overblown. There's little to no evidence that Diggs is genuinely unhappy with his situation and his role on the Vikings. He's good friends with fellow offensive stars Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen, plays with one of the best deep-ball passers in the NFL in Kirk Cousins, and is coming off a career year. He gets frustrated when the offense struggles, as does everyone else. Diggs just tends to be less cautious with keeping his expressions of frustration out of public sight.
As a former fifth-round pick who worked incredibly hard to turn himself into a star, Diggs is justifiably confident in his abilities. It's certainly possible that he would like the Vikings – who ran the ball on a higher percentage of plays than all but two teams during the regular season – to throw more. He has legitimate complaints when Cousins checks the ball down to a back or tight end instead of giving him a chance to make a play downfield.
But the thought that Diggs wants to be traded, until proven otherwise, is nothing more than an unfounded rumor. He had 55 fewer targets and 39 fewer catches than he did in 2019, but his total receiving yards went up as the depth of his targets increased massively. Gary Kubiak's offense, which will be back in 2020, gives Diggs a great deal of big-play opportunities off of play-action. The Vikings should retain almost all of their offense, and will look to use this offseason to upgrade their offensive line. They might even draft his younger brother in the first round in April.
As for the Vikings' side of things, there's similarly little reason to believe they are fed up with Diggs' antics. He knows he broke the rules by not showing up on consecutive days early in the season, and the hefty fine attached with that violation figures to ensure that that won't happen again. The tweets and sideline behavior are seen by outsiders as distractions, but as long as Diggs keeps producing, the Vikings have little reason to be put off by those type of minor things.
Zimmer has a reputation as someone who doesn't tolerate players who create drama, but he genuinely likes Diggs and understands that all of his outbursts simply come from a passion for the game and a relentless desire to win. Every locker room needs leaders who motivate and demand accountability from the players around them. Diggs is one of those guys. With another of the team's emotional leaders, Everson Griffen – the team's primary 'ra-ra' motivator – possibly set to move on this summer, Diggs' off-the-field value shouldn't be overlooked.
From an on-field perspective, it simply doesn't make sense to trade Diggs. The Vikings' run-heavy offense can't succeed without the threat of explosive passing plays, and Diggs is up there with the league's best in that department. He's an elite route-runner who can win against all types of coverage, and a sure-handed receiver (his four fumbles in the first half of 2019 were very fluky) who is outstanding at tracking deep passes in the air. When Thielen is healthy, those two make up one of the best duos in the NFL.
Additionally, Diggs' age and contract make him an extremely valuable player regardless of what the Vikings do with the rest of their offense from a long-term perspective. If they go all in on their current situation with extensions for Cousins and Cook while upgrading the line through the draft, Diggs will continue to be a big part of that plan. If they choose to move on from Cousins by drafting a quarterback, the 26-year-old Diggs is young enough to be a key piece of the future with whoever the team's next quarterback might be. He's under contract through the 2023 season with cap hits of less than $15 million annually.
The Vikings have plenty of holes to address this offseason, starting with cornerback, offensive line, and defensive tackle. They should also look to bring in some wide receiver depth behind Diggs and Thielen. Trading Diggs – whose skillset would be extremely difficult to replace – would simply create another gaping hole. The Vikings would regret it for years to come.
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