It’s a tradition unlike any other.
A receiver gets even vaguely mentioned to be on the trade block or unhappy with his team and it will almost certainly be followed by people clamoring for the Patriots to sign said player. Most of the time, it all turns out to be just smoke, though. After all, how many times has Larry Fitzgerald been loosely referred to as a “target” for New England to scoop up?
Of course, sometimes that smoke grows into something real. Look no further than Antonio Brown.
Now, Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs is being thrown into the fire, and this isn’t the first time the 25-year-old has been mentioned in the same sentence as New England. There were rumors last season that the Pats were kicking the tires on a potential trade with the Vikings to acquire Diggs, but the talks turned out to be just that and nothing ever came of it. And while the validity of those “talks” isn’t clear, that didn’t stop the NFL world from running with a potential union between the two sides.
Diggs himself has played his part in fanning the trade flames as well. One quick scroll down his Twitter timeline and it would lead one to believe that a potential departure from Minnesota may be imminent.
I don’t forget or forgive…
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) February 7, 2020
People don’t appreciate things until they’re gone…
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) February 9, 2020
Business is business… 🤷🏾♂️
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) February 10, 2020
Tired of the cap… lol
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) February 11, 2020
Ain’t wit none of the faking or handshaking…
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) February 12, 2020
Things getting interesting …
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) February 15, 2020
Things certainly are getting interesting.
The intriguing part is how all those tweets have come from this month, so any wound that may be open between him and the Vikings clearly hasn’t been healed yet, likely dating back to when the team shopped him around last season before the trade deadline.
And now, this news has come out sending Patriots fans into a frenzy.
Stefon Diggs deleted everything on IG Vikings related pic.twitter.com/jS0g6oxnOA
— Ryan Sjoberg (@Ryan_Sjoberg) February 18, 2020
There is no longer any evidence on Diggs’s Instagram account that he ever played for the Vikings. For a player to go through and delete any and all posts about his current team should be seen as a big deal nowadays.
But even though Diggs and the Vikings’ relationship may be on the rocks, is a marriage with the Patriots something that would make sense?
Diggs is going into the second year of a five-year, $72 million extension he signed with the team back in 2018. The receiver has a cap hit of $14.5 million this year which shoots up to $15 million in 2021 and 2022 but drops down to $12 million in the final year of the deal in 2023.
If the Patriots trade for him, they could be giving Tom Brady a legitimate No. 1 receiver in his last years while simultaneously giving whoever takes over the reins from Brady a talented weapon to ease that transition. From a purely football standpoint, this is a no-brainer. Diggs can stretch the field in place of a retired Rob Gronkowski and rack up some big plays for an offense that has been severely lacking in that department.
But do the dollars make sense? That’s where things get a little murky.
With Diggs set to make double what leading receiver Julian Edelman makes per year, would Bill Belichick be willing to part with vital cap space on a position that he hasn’t valued as much as other teams during his tenure with the Patriots? As things stand right now, Belichick has just over $29 million to work with when it comes to cap space. And with questions on the offensive line, defensive players to sign or replace and the ominous Tom Brady situation, fitting Diggs into this team’s plans may take some fancy financial footwork.
Is it impossible, though? Not at all. The team could restructure a few current deals and cut a few players to make some space to add Diggs, but it all comes down to Belichick. With N’Keal Harry and Mohamed Sanu likely getting a full offseason to work with the team, as well as the draft coming up, it may make sense for the Pats to stand pat and work with what they have.
While Patriots fans are no doubt salivating at the potential of Tom Brady throwing 50-yards bombs to Diggs all season, the move just may not be in the cards. Unless the Vikings will eat some of his contract or he’s open to restructuring his current deal, Diggs may not be suiting up in Foxboro any time soon.