EAGAN — Since missing practice on Wednesday for “non-injury” reasons, there have been reports that Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is unhappy with the present situation and that he missed the workout to show his disenchantment.
On Thursday he was back at practice and held a press conference to discuss his absence. At first he claimed that he was sick but that did not show up on the team’s injury report. Diggs then was asked a barrage of questions about trade rumors and his future in Minnesota. Here’s five things we could take away from his talk at the podium…
He denied asking for a trade
Multiple reports have stated that the Vikings have no interest in trading their star wide receiver, who caught 102 passes last season but only has 13 through the first quarter of this season.
On the topic of whether he asked for a trade, Diggs said that he spoke with his team about the circumstances and his feelings but did not implicitly ask to be moved.
“I’ve talked to everybody,” he said. “I haven’t communicated anything. The conversations I’ve had have only been about team and trying to have success on the field.”
Asked whether his agent had trade discussions with the Vikings, Diggs said “you would have to ask him.”
The Vikings do not have any incentive to move Diggs, especially considering their No. 3 receiver is Bisi Johnson, a rookie seventh-round pick. He is also just under 26 years old and under contract through 2023 at cap hits no higher than $15 million. All of that is very favorable for the team and it would take an exceptional return in order to force the Vikings’ hand.
However, in a situation like that of former Bengal Carson Palmer or most recently Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown in which the player simply refuses to play for his franchise anymore, the team ultimately would have little choice other than to trade him.
He confirmed reports of frustration
Diggs tried several times to clarify what he meant by “there is truth to all rumors” but he ultimately explained that he was confirming reports of his disenchantment with the present situation.
“There’s a lot of speculation about me being frustrated,” he said. “Of course. Being a receiver and wanting to have success, and wanting to win. If you want to win and you’re not winning of course you’ll be frustrated. That’s my answer.”
We can only read into why he might be frustrated. The team is currently 31st in passing and appears to be interested in sticking with a run-first approach, building the offense around Dalvin Cook. If you go farther down that road, it would be reasonable to speculate about him wanting to be a No. 1 receiver rather than being 1A to Adam Thielen. Or you could look at a potential contract restructure down the road if he continued to put up 100-catch seasons. None of those things were made clear by the Vikings’ receiver on Thursday.
There was some implication about the offense
If we are reading between the lines, one particular statement reads like he’s pointing toward the offensive philosophy as an issue.
“All I can say is if I’m doing my job, I’m doing what’s asked, whether it’s enough, it’s kind of on them,” Diggs said. “But given opportunities, I try to make the most of my opportunities.”
You could come away with the sense that Diggs does not feel like he’s being given the chance to be the centerpiece of a successful offense like he has been in the past.
Diggs put his future on the Vikings’ side
Same goes for his answer when questioned about whether he wants to stay in Minnesota.
“I love it here,” Diggs said. “I’ve been here for five years. I love everything about the community, I love everything about my teammates, and I love everything about my team. But right now, as to whether I’ll be here or not, it’s whether they want me here.”
There is no reason for anyone to believe that the Vikings wouldn’t want Diggs. He’s one of their best players and best stories, going from a fifth-round pick to star status to the Minneapolis Miracle play against the New Orleans Saints. The only thing that would make him feel unwanted is the scheme and possibly decisions made with the ball by Cousins.
He wants to play Sunday
The Vikings could choose to punish Diggs for missing practice but it would be surprising if they did considering the magnitude of the game this week against the Giants.
“I hope they let me play. I like football. I want to be a part of playing football Sundays always,” Diggs said.
Of course, Diggs could be saying he wants to play but not actually have plans to be in the lineup. The fact that he returned to practice, however, strongly implies that he will play.
We still have way more questions than answers. Could this problem be resolved by a couple 10-catch performances and big wins over the Giants, Eagles and Lions? Or is the situation untenable? Will it turn into Jalen Ramsey situation where each week becomes more dramatic than the last?
We do know that the feeling at TCO Performance Center is tense and it appears no one is clear on what will happen next.