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Instant reaction: Vikings trade Stefon Diggs to Buffalo

There is indeed truth to all rumors.

The Minnesota Vikings will reportedly send receiver Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills for first, fifth and sixth-round picks in 2020 and an additional 2021 fourth-round pick.

Over the last year Diggs has hinted repeatedly at frustration, including sitting out two practices and being fined $200,000 by the Vikings leading up to Week 5 last season. He tweeted on Monday that “something’s going to happen” and he turned out to be right.

The good 

The Vikings create $5.5 million in cap space by moving Diggs, allowing them to begin the process of rebuilding their defense. Prior to the move they had just around $7 million in space after signing Kirk Cousins to an extension, franchise tagging Anthony Harris and re-signing CJ Ham and Britton Colquitt on Monday. They are desperately in need of cornerback help and $5 million could be enough to land them a rotational pass rusher or a nickel cornerback or play a role in getting Everson Griffen to return on a fairly team-friendly contract.

Landing a first-round pick in this year’s draft is a home run because the strengths of the draft happen to match up with the Vikings’ needs on offense. This is considered one of the deepest receiver drafts we’ve ever seen and there are multiple starting tackle prospects expected to be taken in the first round. On the defensive side, it’s a weak draft along the D-line and at cornerback, so the Vikings could pick those positions with their two firsts and use later picks (they also have two thirds) to replace Diggs.

There’s also the frustration factor. There were times when it boiled over on the sidelines and in training camp and his social media was being watched so closely by football reporters and fans that every tweet became an event. Things will be quieter now.

The bad

Diggs is one of the best receivers in the NFL, hands down. He was second in the league in yards per reception and has flipped roles multiple times over the past few years and succeeded in every type of situation, whether it be out of the slot or outside, deep receiver or short. When throwing his way over the last two years, Kirk Cousins had a quarterback rating of 107.9 in 2018 and 111.8 in 2019. He’s one of the elite route runners in the NFL and always ranks toward the top of the NFL in contested catch rate.

Absolute best case scenario with any draft pick is that they become anything like Diggs. And if that doesn’t work out, things will be much harder on Cousins in the near future.

Take the 2015 draft class for example. Five receivers were taken in the first round that year and none of them caught more passes than Diggs since then. Only one — Amari Cooper — has become a star.

There aren’t many players on the free agent market that could even remotely begin to replace Diggs, especially none on bargain deals and on the current roster Bisi Johnson is the only other receiver outside of Adam Thielen with legitimate NFL experience.

The bottom line

The Vikings will have an incredibly difficult time replacing one of the great receivers in their history but they clearly couldn’t get to a place where the team and the star receiver were on the same page. Vikings fans will be asking for a long time whether this could have been avoided.

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Previous Story How will the Vikings create more cap space? Next Story Zulgad: Flurry of activity creates confusion about direction Vikings are taking