Reports have been swirling that Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Stefon Diggs is actively pursuing a trade from the team. The Vikings are in the midst of a rocky season, sitting with a 2-2 record with divisional losses to the Packers and Bears. Technically, they are last place in the NFC North. Both Diggs and Adam Thielen have openly discussed their frustrations with the team. At the moment, these reports are simply rumours. Nonetheless, could there be any validity to these claims?
Instead of downplaying what the team calls inaccurate claims, Diggs has been fuelling speculation that he wants out. After missing practice on Wednesday due to a non-injury related reason, speculation began to mount. Social media did not help when Diggs decided to start following the New England Patriots on Instagram. Shortly thereafter, he posted this cryptic tweet.
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) September 30, 2019
Many pundits began to connect the dots between Diggs and New England. The Patriots are lacking offensive weapons now that Antonio Brown is no longer with the team. Bill Belichick has a significant history of bringing in frustrated star players and reviving their careers.
When New England began to make moves clearing some cap space, social media exploded with a potential Diggs trade. Reports began to surface that it wouldn’t be long before he would be a member of the team. Since then, a league source with knowledge of the situation said the Vikings have no plans to trade Diggs.
You would think that would put an end to all trade talks. Well, this morning Diggs once again decided to add fuel to the fire. During a press conference, he was asked about the rumors.
“I feel like there’s truth to all rumors, no matter how you dress it up,” Diggs told reporters Thursday. “I won’t be speaking on it at all, but there is truth to all rumors, I guess. There’s truth to all rumors,” Diggs continued. “So what I mean on that, so I can politely explain, is there’s a lot of speculation on me being frustrated. Of course, being a receiver and wanting to have success and wanting to win, if you want to win and you’re not winning, of course you’d be frustrated. That’s my answer.”
Even though the team has reportedly closed the door on a trade, we have learned in the NFL that no door is ever really closed. With those comments, Diggs seems to be signaling that there is potential for him to be in a new uniform by the end of the season. Whether the team wants to trade him or not, there are ways for Diggs to get what he wants. Just ask Le’Veon Bell. It might be more difficult for Diggs considering he signed a five-year, $72 million extension before the 2018 season.
The source of his frustrations
Why is Diggs so frustrated? Well, Minnesota ranks 24th in the league with 324.2 yards a game and is tied at 18th in scoring with 21 points a game. The 25-year-old receiver has 13 catches for 209 yards and a touchdown. In 2018, he posted career highs of 102 catches, 1,021 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns.
During their losses, the offense has been less than impressive. Quarterback Kirk Cousins, in his second year of an 84 million dollar contract, has visibly struggled to get the ball to his receivers. In these first four games, Cousins is 37 of 63 for 502 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. These are not numbers that a “franchise” quarterback should be putting up.
Struggling is nothing new for Cousins. He holds a 5-27 career record against winning teams. In an excellent piece from PFN’s Jeremy Hoffman, he looked at exactly how Cousins’ play has impacted this Vikings team overall. He points out that Cousins has performed worse than backups that have been thrust into the starting position this year.
“According to Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM), Cousins falls way below the average for quarterbacks. Cousins 15.88 grade through four weeks places him 34th out of 40 quarterbacks that qualify. That’s right, backups like Kyle Allen, Gardner Minshew, Mason Rudolph, and Luke Falk all have better PFN OSM grades than Cousins.”
Diggs is currently sitting at an Offensive Share Metric of 28.50, which is in the same range as receivers like Preston Williams, Robby Anderson, and Hunter Renfrow. It is not company that someone of his caliber should expect to keep.
We do not know what will happen with Diggs, but if the Vikings continue to struggle they might not have a choice but to think about rebuilding. They have quality talent at nearly every position, but the team continues to underperform. If Diggs does, in fact, want out, he might be a commodity that could bring in a rich return.
We will continue to update the story as more news becomes available. For more, follow us on Twitter: @PFN365.