Does the Stefon Diggs Trade Push the Bills Past the Patriots as Kings of the AFC East?
The Buffalo Bills have been an active participant in the offseason so far. After signing former All-Pro free agent cornerback Josh Norman last week, the Bills looked to the other side of the ball and unloaded four draft picks for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs in a blockbuster deal late Monday night.
Since 2000, the Bills have made the playoffs just two times. They have not won a playoff game since 1995. Buffalo, however, has shown significant promise in the last few seasons, reaching the postseason in 2017 and 2019. This latest move gives Josh Allen, Buffalo’s promising young quarterback, a legitimate No. 1 target and could make the Bills the favorite in the AFC East for 2020.
The Bills are no longer the doormat in the AFC East
From 2002 (when the divisions went from five teams to four) through 2016, the Bills have finished either third or fourth in every season but two. In one of those seasons (2007), the Bills finished second in the division but still had a losing season, finishing 7-9. From 2008-2013, the Bills were dead last in the division. After reaching four straight Super Bowls during an impressive run in the 90s, it’s been ugly in Buffalo.
Under head coach Sean McDermott’s leadership in the last three seasons, the Bills have reached the playoffs. Last season, the Bills put together their first 10-win season since 1999. Josh Allen, drafted with the seventh overall pick in 2018, has been the team’s leader at quarterback, showing off a strong arm and using his mobility to elude defenders and avoid sacks. The knock on Allen has been his inaccuracy and inconsistency as evidenced in the team’s heartbreaking loss to the Houston Texans last year as they blew a double-digit lead in the second half and fell 22-19.
Stefon Diggs was unhappy with the Vikings
During the season, Diggs appeared unhappy as he expressed his frustrations through the print media and on social media. He was unhappy with the losses and he was unhappy with his lack of targets. He didn’t shy away from the fact he wasn’t a happy camper.
“It’s not one thing. It’s not one specific thing that would make me more satisfied. I feel like at this point, I’ve been here for a while. I’ve been here for a couple years, so just kind of getting through it and going through the motions and acting like I’ve been in this space for a minute. We are where we are right now, and I’m saying a lot to say nothing right now, so you can get where this interview is going to go.”
Even during the offseason, Diggs continued to voice his displeasure. On Monday, he appeared to realize his time in Minnesota was over. He indicated it was time for a fresh start. He will be getting a new one with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills have been down this road before
During the 2014 draft, the Bills made a similar move, unloading a few picks in order to select highly regarded Sammy Watkins, a wide receiver out of Clemson.
The Bills were picking ninth overall in 2014, but moved up five spots, making a draft-day deal with the Cleveland Browns. The Bills swapped first-round picks in 2014 and Buffalo also sent its first-rounder in 2015 and its fourth-rounder in 2015 for the right to move up five spots in the draft.
The bold move did not pay off for the Bills as Watkins struggled during his time in Buffalo, Battling various injuries, Watkins lasted just three seasons with the Bills before moving on via trade with the Los Angeles Rams.
In those three seasons with the Bills, Watkins’ best season came in 2015 when he caught nine touchdown passes in 13 games. He finished with 1,047 receiving yards. In 2016, however, he was limited to eight games due to a nagging foot injury and had two touchdown receptions and 430 yards.