Vikings are the big winner of Stefon Diggs trade to the Bills

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MINNEAPOLIS -- A lot of good will come out of the divorce between Stefon Diggs and the Minnesota Vikings. For both sides.

No more drama.

No more cryptic tweets.

No more wondering whether there's "truth to all rumors," particularly those that involve trading a receiver in his prime and questions about whether he wants out.

It took the right offer to convince the Vikings that it was time to let go, and that came on Monday night from the Buffalo Bills. The Vikings agreed to send Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick to Buffalo for a first-round pick, a fifth-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a 2021 fourth-round selection.

Minnesota was adamant that it wasn't going to trade a receiver of Diggs' caliber simply because he appeared visibly frustrated at times last season and skipped some meetings and practices to prove a point. The value of his contract was too good. He was too good. The Vikings were never going to accept less than a first-round pick for Diggs, but it would always require more than that.

Because that's what you do when teams inquire about one of your stars. If not, you end up like the Houston Texans, who let DeAndre Hopkins walk in exchange for the Arizona Cardinals' David Johnson (and his entire salary), a second- and a fourth-round pick.

The Vikings and Bills came away with the proper severance in the split, and many will argue that Minnesota came out ahead. The Vikings now have a slew of picks -- 13 in total -- including the Nos. 22 and 25 selections -- to continue to invest in a team that is in win-now mode for another year.

And Diggs? The 26-year-old gets what he's always wanted. He's a fierce competitor who thrives off being the guy, and he gets the chance to show he's more than one-half of the Diggs-Adam Thielen duo.

In an offense with Cole Beasley and John Brown, Diggs gets to be a true No. 1 receiver.

That wasn't going to happen in Minnesota. Not with as many pass-catching options as quarterback Kirk Cousins has at his disposal from Thielen to Kyle Rudolph to Irv Smith . Not in a scheme predicated off a run-first mentality where Dalvin Cook is the centerpiece.

It's an obvious upgrade for Buffalo. Diggs had eight receptions of 40-plus yards last season, which was tied for the most such receptions in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The entire Bills roster combined for eight such receptions last season. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen emphatically tweeted "Ya Digg?" moments after the terms of the trade were announced, clearly thrilled to have a receiver of Diggs' caliber.

Minnesota came away with quite a haul of draft capital, but Diggs' departure leaves a noticeable hole.

Diggs is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. The next closest receiver was Thielen (418), whose 2019 was cut short due to a hamstring injury. Bisi Johnson, Laquon Treadwell and Chad Beebe barely did enough to make a dent in the overall production.

Finding a replacement for Diggs might not be easy despite the depth of this year's receiver draft class. Diggs averaged 17.9 yards per reception last season, fourth-most in the NFL, and had the third-best catch percentage above expectation (+10.7%) among wide receivers with at least 50 targets, according to Next Gen Stats.

Those numbers alone are part of the reason the Vikings wouldn't entertain the idea of a trade unless the offer blew them away. Teams don’t, or at least shouldn’t, unload their best players unless they have something to show for it in return. Now that the Vikings have, it's time to figure out the best way to spend what they got back for Diggs.

The Vikings have several holes to fill and don't appear to be done in free agency, but the next Diggs will undoubtedly come by way of the draft. How Minnesota uses its newly found draft capital, potentially trading up to select receivers CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy -- both considered top-15 picks -- could put a bow on this trade when it's all said and done. There may also be receivers the Vikings like later in the first round. Minnesota can fill two voids by drafting a receiver and a cornerback with their two first-round picks.

This is where we could see Minnesota’s scouting acumen and draft strategy pay off. Diggs was a fifth-round selection in 2015. It would be unrealistic to assume that the Vikings could draft another mid-round pick and expect he’ll develop along the same trajectory or that he’ll come with all the tools that make Diggs great. There’s a lot of luck involved in things playing out that perfectly. But with all their new draft capital -- not to mention the $5.5 million in cap relief from the trade -- that came after parting ways with Diggs, the Vikings are in a solid position to continue moving forward. For now.

Of course, the Vikings know their overarching priority. If they don't improve on the offensive line, it won't matter what moves they made or will make. Fixing the weak link on offense is the only way Minnesota can create and sustain success.

Soon, we'll begin to find out where the Vikings are really headed. We'll see how good Thielen can be without sharing a field with Diggs. We'll find out just how difficult it is to replace Diggs. We'll find out whether Minnesota's offensive philosophy is good enough to win consistently.

It was best that both sides went their separate ways. The Vikings now have one less disgruntled player and a bevy of draft capital to do almost anything they want. For Diggs, a shot at a "new beginning" may prove to be the best thing for his career.