So, we...meaning I...have had some time to put the Stefon Diggs trade to Buffalo in the rear view mirror, take a deep breath, and look at this from a calm, rational, point of view.
Lol okay only partially, because man I love Diggsy and I am always going to think this was just a flat out stupid trade.
BUT...that said, there are a lot of different ways to look at this trade. Although I’m never going to like it, it’s not like anyone who feels the same way I do can do anything about it, right? So, let’s see how this will impact the Vikings, both in the short and long term.
First, let’s break down the trade itself. In return for Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh round pick...which Rick Spielman covets more than Gollum covets The Ring...Minnesota received what feels like a King’s ransom:
WR Stefon Diggs
/rolls into fetal position
2020 7th round pick
/Rick Spielman rolls into fetal position
2020 First round pick (22 overall)
2020 Fifth round pick (155 overall)
2020 Sixth round pick (207 overall)
2021 Fourth round pick
That gives Minnesota an astounding 12...12 PICKS ah-ah-aaaaaaaah in the upcoming draft that we will all follow #TogetherApart, or something. That includes four pick in the top 105 selections, including two first rounders and two third rounders.
With the trade, GM Rick Spielman has enough ammo to do damn near anything he wants, to include moving into the top 10 to grab a premium prospect, if he wants, without really having to sacrifice draft picks in 2021 and beyond.
So, was it a good deal? Hell yeah, it was. No matter what your feelings on Diggs, the trade, or the aftermath are, Spielman got a great return. If you don’t think so, take a look at the insanely BAD trade Texans coach/GM/Stooge Bill O’Brien made yesterday with another top WR. He traded DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth round pick for the shell of what used to be RB David Johnson, his massive contract, and a second round pick. Terrible. Criminally bad.
If you missed it, I was kind of rage tweeting last night in the immediate aftermath of the Diggs trade. Besides the return the Vikings got, some of the other counter arguments to my really tired, sometimes spelling-challenged tweets was that Diggs was becoming a problem in the locker room, was ‘the next AB’, and might have held out. Let’s break down each one of these charges.
Locker Room Problem/Diva: Maybe. You can say his social media stuff was distracting, a pain in the ass, or both. You could also make an argument that he was mercurial on the sideline, which is true. And you can point to his antics after the first Bears game as off the field drama that the Vikings didn’t need.
My counter to that is that if you take social media seriously, unless someone is threatening self-harm or harm to others, that’s a you problem, not a them problem. Social media is a lot of things, but real life it ain’t. As to being mercurial on the sideline, yeah, okay, he is. The dude wants the ball, and he wants to win. Adam Thielen does the same thing to referees, Bill Belichick, or Kirk Cousins, and there’s not nearly the fuss made about it when he does. And yeah, Diggs had that October Surprise that threatened to topple the whole season into the gutter. But what happened after that? Oh, that’s right, the Vikings passing offense finally pulled their collective head out of their collective posterior, and Kirk Cousins went on a tear that was something never before seen in the NFL, it was so good.
He was going to hold out: Okay, I relent here. Solid argument. I mean, we don’t know for sure that he was going to hold out, but if he did, it would have been a huge distraction, the season would have really started off on the wrong foot, and the Vikings would have been at a serious disadvantage if they had explored any trade options. So, if the Vikes knew that was coming, yes, it’s far better to be proactive now than reactive later. If the Vikes waited, and Diggs didn’t report to training camp, I would have a hard time believing he would get a better deal in the backdrop of a Diggs holdout and trade demand than he did yesterday. Although for context, when the Vikings traded Percy Harvin to Seattle in 2013, they got Seattle’s 2013 first and seventh round picks, and their 2014 third round pick. You tell me if that was a better deal or not. (It was close, but yesterday’s trade was a better one, I think).
And hey, Diggs wanted out, so he’s out. All the way out to Buffalo, exposing his ribcage to Jake ‘Nuke LaLoosh’ Allen fastballs in December...in Orchard Park. Hope that works out for him.
He’s the next AB: Let’s just stop with this. AB crossed over from temperamental superstar to dude with potentially serious off the field issues that need to be addressed. Diggsy ain’t that guy.
Finally, the last argument to persuade me to embrace this trade was that the Vikings wide receiver group is already pretty good, and they’ll ‘get the next Diggs’ in the draft.
I flat out disagree with both arguments. So...I’m going to really show my ass by linking this really popular and well received post I did a little over a month ago. I hope you kicked me when I was down last night in the ‘Diggs got traded’ post, and won’t continue here. The reason I linked the post is because of what I said about the Vikings wide receivers if they did do what I still maintain...isn’t smart...but you’re all now smarter than me for thinking it would happen:
Why does trading Diggs make the Vikings worse? Well, for one, you’re trading away the only legitimate deep threat on the roster, and a guy that had 1130 yards receiving and a 17.9 yards per catch average. You can’t replace that, especially when you look at the wide receivers who will be on the roster when the new league year begins:
Hamilton Aaron Burr sirHollins
And excuse me but who the hell is Bralon Addison?
Other than Thielen JUST LOOK AT THAT TALENT THAT JUMPS OUT AT YOU MY GOD JUST PLUG IN ADDISON AND LET’S PLAY FOOTBALL! SUPER BOWL HOMEBOY!!!!
Trading Diggs with this depth behind Thielen neuters Thielen, Rudolph, Irv Smith, Jr., and the rest of the Vikings passing game before they even take the field.
I still firmly believer that, and no matter who they may sign in free agency, it’s not going to equate to what Stefon Diggs brings to the table. It just isn’t. And now, you really don’t have a slot threat, and you don’t have an outside threat to counter Adam Thielen. If you’ll remember back to 2018, Thielen started off with 100 yards receiving in an NFL record eight straight games to begin the season. Then, if you’ll also remember, Diggs got hurt, and Thielen’s production fell off a cliff. He only had one more 100 yard receiving game the last eight games, because a hampered Diggs and pedestrian receiving corps didn’t provide any kind of threat to opposing defenses besides Thielen. And the 2018 receiving corps was still better than what’s currently on the roster.
So, how have the Vikings done drafting wide receivers under Rick Spielman since he became the full time GM in 2012?
Well, of the nine wide receivers drafted, I would argue that Jarius Wright was a good player, selected in the 4th round of 2012. Cordarrelle Patterson and Laquon Treadwell, first round selections in 2013 and 2016 respectively, didn’t pan out. Patterson was a bust as a receiver, but was a pretty good returner, yet they traded up in the first round to get him, and thought he could be the next Percy Harvin.
He was not, at least as a receiver. Treadwell was a flat out bust, no two ways about it.
And then, of course, was Diggs. The rest are either Bisi Johnson, who’s still on the roster, and four guys who are no longer with the team. In Spielman’s defense those guys were all late round picks, and the chances of making the roster were pretty small.
But, when the Vikings did go WR early, the results haven’t been optimal. So, with no top tier free agents out there (Amari Cooper re-signed with Dallas), the Vikings are going to HAVE to hit on a guy early in the draft.
The only issue with that is that they have other needs. As I was writing this, word broke that CB Trae Waynes signed with Cincinnati, and Minnesota might be trading Anthony Harris to Cleveland. If Harris stays or is traded, the Vikings still need an infusion of talent in the secondary, and along both the offensive and defensive line.
With the Vikings signaling they’re going to transition to a run oriented offense straight out of 19...19...1985, I would argue they need OL and secondary help before wide receiver. Two first and third round picks will really help them address needs, but will it be enough to fill all the holes the roster currently has?
With only about $14 million available under the salary cap, it feels like it will almost have to be.