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Pollock: The Buffalo Bills were losers in the Stefon Diggs trade

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A column by Sun Senior Columnist CHUCK POLLOCK

So what do we make of the Stefon Diggs fiasco?

We know three things:

• The 30-year-old Bills wide receiver, after four years, was dealt to Houston plus a sixth-round draft choice this April and a fifth-rounder in 2025 in exchange for the Texans’ second-rounder in ‘25.

• Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott weren’t forthcoming about his future with the team, repeatedly maintaining during the offseason “he’s our No.1 wide receiver.”

• The Bills got absolutely hosed on the deal. Diggs for a second-rounder was fair. But the two extra draft picks? And the worst penalty of all, Diggs’ exit cost Buffalo $31 million in dead salary cap money this season.

BEANE swung the deal but you can bet McDermott pulled the trigger.

How do I know?

Diggs embarrassed his coach twice in a span of five months.

The first came in January of 2023 when, after the galling home playoff loss to Cincinnati, Diggs stalked from the locker room before McDermott even talked to the team. A teammate convinced him to return.

Then, in June, he was absent from the first day of mandatory veterans workouts. McDermott, tellingly, told the media he was “very concerned.”

Then, the next day, in the cliched “hastily-called press conference” he back-tracked faster than a cornerback covering Tyreek Hill and said, Diggs, in fact, was in the building the previous day, but had been excused from practice. That’s if you want to believe the head coach didn’t even know what was going on with his own team.

In both cases, that’s hardly the behavior you anticipate from a team captain. Then, of course, there were the cryptic tweets and sideline harranges with quarterback Josh Allen when he didn’t feel he was getting the ball.

It was reminiscent of his final season with Minnesota. The Vikings didn’t trade him to the Bills for a first-round draft pick because he was a delight to have on the roster. The NFL’s biggest divas, by far, are wide receivers and once he established himself, Diggs perfectly fit the pattern, though by contrast, he was also impressively generously active with his time in the Buffalo community.

When he was at his best his first 3½ seasons in Buffalo, Diggs was as good as any wideout in the league.

But when his production fell off a cliff the last 10 games — one touchdown, fewer than five catches a game and for under nine yards per reception — his divaship was far less tolerable.

And despite what Beane and McDermott told the media, other NFL teams knew Buffalo was looking to dump Diggs which is why the Texans got such a great deal … they knew the Bills were hardly trading from a position of strength. Indeed, it was reported that Diggs could seek a deal with all but one of the other 31 NFL teams … Kansas City.

SO NOW what?

On the current roster is only one wide receiver who got decent playing time last season, Khalil Shakir, plus two promising free agent signings, Curtis Samuel, a significant addition, and Mack Hollins, a solid veteran. Other than that are five JAGs (Just Another Guy): Justin Shorter, K.J. Hamler, Andy Isabella, Bryan Thompson and Tyrell Shaver.

Thus, the Bills are pinning their hopes on the draft which is unusually deep in quality receivers. And even though Buffalo picks 28th in the first round, that ‘25 second-rounder from Houston could be fodder to move up.

Trouble is, in his six drafts with the Bills, Beane has never taken a wide receiver higher than the fourth round (Gabe Davis in 2020) and if ever there was a year to ditch that trend, this is the one. And, to be sure, he absolutely has to get that first-rounder right.

AFTER THE Diggs trade, Beane held a press conference and offered some interesting and honest thoughts.

“Are we better today, probably not,” he admitted. “It’s a work in progress, and we’re going to continue to work on that.

“I would just hope that people know I’m competitive as hell, and I ain’t giving in. We’re going to work through this, and we’re going to continue to look. I’m confident in the guys we have on the roster and in the staff we have upstairs.

“We’ll continue to find pieces to add and we’ll be ready to roll when it comes time in September.”

That all sounds good, but with way too much “If come …”

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at cpollock@wnynet.net.)

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