Former Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs on why he forced his way out of Minnesota
Diggs currently leads the NFL with 100 catches, and is on a pace to put up numbers he could only dream of if he was still with the Vikings.
A few hours after the Vikings let a winnable game slip out of their grasp in Tampa, Fla., the team’s one-time darling receiver Stefon Diggs caught nearly every pass thrown his way for his new team in Buffalo, New York, on Sunday Night Football. He continued his ascension into superstardom with 10 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in the Bills’ 26-15 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After that impressive primetime performance, Diggs leads the NFL with 100 catches, and is on a pace to put up numbers he could only dream of if he was still with the Vikings.
And that’s why the outspoken 27-year-old forced his out of the Twin Cities in the spring. He finally admitted as much during a segment that aired on Sunday NFL Countdown.
“I wasn’t in a great place mentally,” Diggs said. “I wanted more for myself. I felt like I could do more. I try to grind and have success in the league and then I had got a contract and I was happy about that but I wasn’t satisfied.”
That’s when the Vikings were making it clear that they wanted running back Dalvin Cook to become the focal point of the offense. And while Diggs emphasized that he still has love for his former teammates, he wasn’t about to waste his prime.
“They were kind of gearing to more of a run-heavy (offense) at that time, and I didn’t know it going in,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be that way. I’m not going to say it was a lid on me; I’m going to say they only would allow me to do so much. In my eyes, it wasn’t going to be in the best interest of my career.”
Seeing his usage decrease during the first month of the 2019 season, Diggs got the Vikings’ attention about his unhappiness by skipping practice after a Week 4 loss to the Chicago Bears. That’s when trade rumors started to swirl, and Diggs did little to snuff them out, saying, “There is truth to all rumors, I guess.”
In the end, Diggs was fined more than $200,000 for skipping practice, and he played out the rest of the season without issue.
“It was me, I guess, saying something without saying something,” Diggs said. “I went into the season having the same conversation that we had. It wasn’t our first time having them.”
Asked if he regretted how he handled that situation, Diggs responded, “I don’t necessarily regret it. I was fined a lot, so maybe part of me wishes I would’ve had that money back. That’s probably it.”
He followed that response with a smirk, his toothy grin as infectious as it’s ever been.
There’s reason for Diggs to smile now; he’s finally getting everything he’s ever wanted. In a blockbuster deal, the Bills acquired Diggs on March 16 in exchange for a first-round draft pick the Vikings used the following month on rookie receiver Justin Jefferson.
In the end, the trade worked out perfectly for both teams, which isn’t always the case. That said, perhaps the Vikings should use their frayed relationship with Diggs as a cautionary tale of how to handle Jefferson so history doesn’t repeat itself.
“I’m always thankful for the Bills trusting and believing in me,” Diggs said. “They saw what I could do on the field and believed in that, so I’m forever grateful. I got a new beginning.”