Diggs has 17 interceptions in his first three seasons, tied with Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson for the most in the league over that span. He was named a first-team All-Pro in 2021. He was named to the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons. He shares the team record for interceptions in a season with 11 in 2021.
There’s a lot he has done right since the Cowboys selected him in the second round of the 2020 draft.
But he wants more.
“I just want to be just flawless,” he said after Wednesday’s first training camp practice. “Like I want to be flawless all the way around, have no flaws in my game and just try to be perfect and just put on display that I’m one of the best DBs in the NFL.”
Diggs has become known as something of a gambler. In 2021, while he led the NFL in interceptions, Diggs allowed 46 receptions for 790 yards and four touchdowns according to NFL Next Gen Stats’ nearest defender metric. In 2022, he allowed 50 catches but for just 639 yards and three touchdowns. In 2021, he allowed 12.6 air yards per reception and 6.8 yards after the catch. In 2022, those numbers came down to 10.6 and 5.3 yards, respectively.
He gave up three touchdowns in 2022 after giving up nine in his first two seasons.
“It’s the ability to play with a higher level of discipline and know that his opportunities are probably going to be less,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “But how can he contribute in the other aspects of defense? So just keep taking that next step.”
The Cowboys clearly believe that will happen by handing him a $21.25 million signing bonus and $42.3 million guaranteed. The negotiations ramped up in recent weeks regarding the extension with the Cowboys hopeful of getting a deal done before training camp ended.
The deal was essentially agreed upon as Diggs was flying to California.
"I was extremely proud. I was crying on my way to Oxnard on the plane,” Diggs said. “With my mom, extremely happy, made me feel good. Made me feel like a proud father, just being able to be able to take care of my family, take care of my son, take care of my mom. That’s always been the main goal, just living comfortably.”
In 2017, Gilmore signed a five-year, $65 million deal with the New England Patriots that included an $18 million signing bonus and $40 million guaranteed. In his first year, New England made it to the Super Bowl but lost. In his second, the won the Super Bowl. In his third, he was named the NFL’s defensive player of the year with a league-high six interceptions and 20 pass deflections.
“I just told him congrats,” Gilmore said. “He can take a deep breath now and I just told him to stay focused, do what he’s been doing, try to build off that, have a great year. It’s always good to get that extension, but you got to play good ball and keep it going.”
“There were a lot of emotions going on in the offseason, just crazy emotions,” Trevon said. “I was just with (my brother) every day, and he's like, ‘I know how you feel, just come with me and I'm gonna take care of you.’ And it worked out, so I’m thankful just to have a brother that’s been through this whole process because it is nerve-wracking.”
In Gilmore, he has a fellow cornerback to pattern himself after on the field. Before they were teammates, Diggs would talk often with Gilmore and send him tape to critique. Since they became teammates, Diggs has learned even more.
“With Stephon, I feel like he’s just very professional,” Diggs said. “Just how he goes about his work, it’s like rubbed off on me. Like he’s waking up at 6 o’clock every day so now I want to wake up at 6 o’clock every day and go get a workout with him and do little stuff like that. He eats perfect. Like he doesn’t eat foolishness. He seen me eating gummy snacks and he’s like, ‘Why are you eating that?’ so little things like that, him just taking me under his wing and just showing me how to last in the league that long. So I’m just taking notes and soaking everything up. I’m very appreciative for it.”
Diggs does not believe the contract adds responsibilities, like being more vocal, but he will lead in his own way, being there to help whoever needs it. Nor does he believe the contract adds pressure.
“It actually took a lot off,” he said. “I can just focus on football and do what I do best.”