The Buffalo Bills are once again looking for answers after another disappointing playoff loss, their fifth in a row. This time, it was the Chiefs once again. They can beat them in the regular season, but the playoffs have proven to be much more difficult. One of the many reasons the Bills lost this time around was a deep, and I mean deep, dropped pass by Stefon Diggs. It happens of course, but it’s a stark mistake in a close, win or go home game.
We all know how good Diggs is and there’s no way you want to lose his production, but is this the time to get what you can for him in a trade? The Vikings didn’t want to pay Diggs and got tired of his grumbling, so traded him to the Bills and drafted Justin Jefferson. They then got huge production from Jefferson on a rookie contract. Of course, they now have to pay him, but those rookie contract years are much needed, especially when you have to pay Josh Allen.
Wide receivers over 30
Diggs is 30 years old and after starting hot, had a down second half of the 2023 season. He was even outplayed statistically by Khalil Shakir by many metrics. The decline for wide receivers comes later on average than running backs, but there is a decline and with more receivers putting up good numbers their rookie years, on rookie contracts, it’s easier to cut bait on a 30-year old receiver that you have to pay a whole bunch of money to.
The number of productive receivers over 30 has taken a hit in recent years. This year was a little better than previous years, as six of the 35 wide receivers that hit 100 targets were 30 or older. Only Adam Thielen was over 31 though, and he saw a big decline in the second half of the season.
Cooper Kupp, who not long ago had one of the best wide receiver seasons ever, showed decline this season at the age of 30 and the team was more than happy to give rookie Puka Nacua a huge workload as he outplayed Kupp. Of course, Jefferson and Nacua aren’t the norm for rookie receivers, so you can’t rely on them all breaking out, but with Josh Allen as the QB, a good first round receiver would have a better chance to put up numbers than he would with a middling quarterback.
Does Diggs want out?
Diggs signed a contract extension last off season, which puts the Bills in a tough spot if they want to trade the star receiver. He has shown signs of disgruntled-ness, but he has never publicly come out requesting a trade. He did skip the first day of minicamp this last offseason and there was concern, but nothing materialized. He had just signed a big extension at that time, as well. It seems his biggest problem has been losing and his role in the offense. We did see his snaps drop off a bit in the second half of the season, but he remained the No. 1 receiver by a wide margin.
Salary cap hit
Trading Diggs isn’t impossible, even with a big cap hit, but it would cost them. The Bills could wait until after June 1, to trade him. At that point, they’d have a cap hit closer to $19 million, than if they traded him before then, which would have the cap hit around $31 million. They could also ask Diggs to reduce his base salary in exchange for trading him somewhere he has signed off on.
Should they trade Diggs?
Diggs, even at 30, should command good draft capital, but he’s not going to work for pennies on the dollar. A team will need to make a big investment in his services on top of what they give in a trade.
In the end, I think they should keep Diggs as long as he’s still on board and productive. There’s no doubt he fell off this season statistically, but I don’t think his fall will be from a cliff, but rather a gradual rolling down the hill for the next couple seasons. If he really wants out, I’d also give him that option, as he is on the wrong side of 30 and if he’s not buying in, then you probably don’t want him on the team anyway.
The one thing I wouldn’t do is have knee-jerk reaction to his drop against the Chiefs and his lowered numbers. He’s still a top receiver and under contract. They need to add another receiver as it is with Gabe Davis likely gone. A crew of Diggs, Shakir, Dalton Kincaid and a rookie receiver would look pretty good with Allen tossing them the ball next season.