Just when you thought Monday's free agency news was winding down, general manager Brandon Beane was brewing up something big in Buffalo. If you fell asleep at 10:30 p.m. EST and dreamt of Stefon Diggs in a Bills jersey, your dreams reportedly turned into reality. Or perhaps, you woke up with great news like this guy in the video below.
Many in the Twitter world were still wide awake when the news broke and were quick to provide commentary on one of the biggest trades to end the first day of the tampering period. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer was the first to report the trade of Stefon Diggs heading to Buffalo for a first, fifth and sixth round pick in the 2020 draft as well as a fourth round pick in the 2021 draft.
Several identify Diggs as one of the best route runners in the NFL as he averaged 17.9 yards per reception in 2019 and has had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Pair that with Josh Allen's arm as well as Cole Beasley and John Brown's production — Buffalo's wide receiver group looks formidable heading into 2020.
Here's what analysts around the sports world are saying about the trade.
1. ESPN's Field Yates thinks Diggs' speed will make offense explosive
ESPN’s Field Yates joined The Howard and Jeremy show on WGR to discuss why he thinks Diggs can be very impactful to the Bills' receiving corps.
"He has outstanding speed," Yates said. "If you look at his production last season, tied in the NFL in terms of the most catches on throws 15 plus yards down the field. That is a way to illustrate how impactful that speed can be. He is a legit vertical threat."
Yates also sees the addition as being one that will help solidify Josh Allen's confidence.
"I think Stefon Diggs checks all of those boxes in terms of route running, so there's some ankle-breaking moves you will find and it's the full route tree for Diggs," Yates explained. "He's a really well rounded player. Not too many guys have back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in this league."
2. SKOR North's Matthew Coller calls Diggs one of the best players in the NFL
SKOR North’s Vikings reporter Matthew Coller appeared on WGR to talk about why Vikings fans will miss a great receiver.
"You've got one of the best players in the NFL," Coller said. "Not just a very good receiver, not just an okay receiver, not a guy who's washed up like T.O. was. He is the best Bills receiver since Andre Reed and honestly has a lot of similarities to Andre Reed because he's competitive, he's tough and he can run every route. He will go up and make catches over people that absolutely wow you. He is a great player and a great competitor."
Coller notes the way Diggs has progressed in his career shows his talent level and proves how he can continue to grow with the Bills.
"He's one of the best deep threats in the NFL," Coller explained. "He had more deep yards than anyone in the NFL last year. The year before, he was catching all quick stuff like slants and screens and then making plays after the catch. There are very few people who have mastered their craft as much as this guy. I don't think you go from being a fifth-round pick to a superstar in the NFL, I think his numbers are going to show that this year in Buffalo, without having that ability — that true technician-type approach that he does."
3. ESPN's Bill Barnwell gives the trade a B
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell handed out grades for big free agency moves, giving the Bills a B for acquiring Stefon Diggs. The grade is based on the player's chance to outplay the contract signed. Barnwell gave the Bills a B and thinks the pairing of Diggs with Buffalo makes perfect sense.
In terms of the on-field fit, there are few players who make more sense for the Bills than Diggs. When you consider his toughness between the numbers and his ability to make plays downfield, he should be an ideal No. 1 wideout for Josh Allen, who had the highest off-target percentage of any quarterback in football last season and didn't do much throwing downfield. The only receivers who averaged more yards per route run in 2019 than Diggs were Michael Thomas and rookie Titans phenom A.J. Brown.
The Bills did just fine with John Brown and Cole Beasley as their top two wideouts in 2019, but the acquisition of Diggs pushes those two into more accurate roles as the second and third receivers. Buffalo suddenly has one of the best wide receiver groups in the league. The Bills were the league's seventh-most run-heavy offense in 2019, but after adding Diggs, I would expect them to throw the ball more frequently in 2020. With a solid offensive line and deep positional groups at wide receiver and tight end, Allen has everything he could ask for.
4. ESPN's Dan Orlovsky loves Buffalo's move
One of the most ecstatic national media members who commented on the trade has to be ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky. He can see just how beneficial this move is for the Bills in the upcoming season.
"I absolutely love this for Buffalo," Orlovsky said. "Buffalo's making it clear that they can and will win the AFC East next year. I mean you're looking at John Brown who's predominantly an outside receiver and then Cole Beasley who is predominantly their inside receiver — now with the addition of Stefon Diggs who can play both, you're talking about a three wide receiver set that Brian Daboll, their play caller, absolutely loves."
After the free agency moves the Bills have made so far, Orlovsky thinks the Bills will be a problem for the AFC.
"Buffalo continues to think this is an improved offensive line, they saw their young quarterback take a step forward last year in critical moments on third down and red zone performance," Orlovsky explained. "It's an outstanding move for the offense. If their defense continues to play really good football and Josh Allen takes another step forward, they're not only going to be an issue for just the AFC East, they'll be an issue for the AFC in general because they play such good defense."
5. CBS Sports' Jim Rome thinks Diggs trade shows Bills are ready to take over
Jim Rome from CBS Sports is completely on board with Brandon Beane's trade to add Diggs to the roster.
"Do you just want to start planning your parade route right now?" Rome said. "Because in a matter of hours the Bills make that deal for Stefon Diggs and then they watch Brady bounce from the AFC East. What a massive day for Buffalo."
A huge day, but Rome considers the move as one that will have a lasting impact on the AFC East.
"What a big swing for Buffalo," Rome said. "You give Josh Allen those weapons and you couple it with the way he has grown as a quarterback and the respect those guys have for him in the locker room, Bills Mafia has to be fired up. Even more than what the trade does for Buffalo, I like what it says about Buffalo. It says we're all in. They're not here to take part. They're here to take over."
6. Vikings radio analyst/former NFL LB Pete Bercich says Diggs adds an "extra dimension"
Former NFL linebacker and current Vikings radio analyst Pete Bercich joined One Bills Live this week to share his opinion on what Diggs will bring to Buffalo after covering the receiver in Minnesota. Bercich says Diggs adds something new to the roster.
"An unbelievably talented young man," Bercich told One Bills Live. "What he possesses is the ability to get behind a defense and what I mean by that is speed and the moves. If you've seen any of the highlight tapes on Twitter you can see how good of a route runner he can be. He adds that extra dimension."
Diggs averaged 17.9 yards per catch last season which tied for fourth most in the league. Bercich thinks he can average this with the Bills which will add another layer to the offense.
"Two years ago he averaged about 10 yards a catch, last year he averaged over 17," Bercich. "That seven yard difference in average of catch led the NFL. He was just a more explosive receiver so when you have guys who are getting the numbers and getting the underneath throws and getting the short throws and those kind of things. That's going to allow a guy like Stefon Diggs to be your big play receiver."
7. Yahoo Sports' Matt Harmon believes Diggs doesn't have a weakness
Matt Harmon from Yahoo Sports thinks Buffalo struck gold with the Diggs trade. He says trading away a first-round pick was the right thing to do.
Diggs has ascended from being a Day 3 draft pick to an established star by mastering the route tree. Diggs separates at all areas of the field, releases from the line of scrimmage against press with ease and makes cornerbacks look downright foolish all too often.
Stefon Diggs is exactly the kind of player you trade a first-round pick (and change) to acquire. It's a great deal for the contending Bills. The wide receiver corps was in shambles just a couple years ago. Now the team has a true No. 1 wideout in tow. He'll join another pristine separator in John Brown who is coming off the best season of his career and a reliable slot receiver in Cole Beasley.
8. Diggs trade is a favorite free agency move of this ESPN writer
Jeremy Fowler writes the Diggs trade to Buffalo is his favorite move of free agency so far because it adds a massive missing piece to the Bills offense.
The Stefon Diggs trade to Buffalo. The Bills gave up a steep price but added the missing piece to their offense. Diggs will make Josh Allen look great even when the ball is not on target. And the Vikings loaded up on draft capital, saved precious salary-cap space and shed a disgruntled player. Not every deal is a win-win, but this one is.
9. NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman likes the Allen to Diggs connection
NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman envisions the opportunity for Diggs to be the number one receiver as something that will bode well for his new team.
A fifth-round pick in 2015, Diggs quickly established himself alongside Adam Thielen as an undersized force to be reckoned with. Over five seasons, he compiled 365 catches for 4,623 receiving yards and 30 scores. He was also the recipient of arguably the most memorable play in Vikings history, "the Minneapolis Miracle," a last-second game-winning TD catch-and-run to send the Vikes to a win over the Saints in the NFC Divisional Round and into the NFC Championship Game back in Jan. 2018.
Now Diggs is on his way from Norse Country to Western New York, where he will be the clear No. 1 receiver. In a receiver room populated by fellow diminutive speedster John Brown, possession maestro Cole Beasley, Andre Roberts and Robert Foster, Diggs will surely be the apple of Josh Allen's eye.
10. RADIO.com's Jordan Cohn thinks Josh Allen will have something he hasn't yet in his career
RADIO.com’s Jordan Cohn feels that Diggs gives Allen the skillset of a No. 1 receiver, something Allen will have for the first time in his NFL career.
Stefon Diggs gives Josh Allen a proven, true No. 1 wide receiver for the first time in his career. And although it cost the Bills four picks including a first rounder, their abundance of cap space and draft capital makes this move easier to stomach.
For Allen, someone of Diggs' caliber is really going to help him develop and possibly reveal whether or not he's truly cut out to be a franchise quarterback, which would help the Bills organization as a whole. And the move didn't cost them all that much in terms of their salary cap, given that Diggs makes $6 million less per year than Amari Cooper now does despite arguably a better track record overall.