Bills trade Stefon Diggs to Texans, per source: Why Buffalo made the move

By Dianna Russini, Zack Rosenblatt, Joe Buscaglia, Tim Graham and Jake Ciely

The Houston Texans have a star quarterback on his rookie contract and they’re not wasting any time surrounding him with elite talent. General manager Nick Caserio has gone big-game fishing all offseason and landed one of the biggest offensive fish in the league: Stefon Diggs. The Texans are trading for the Buffalo Bills star, a league source said, giving quarterback C.J. Stroud a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver and adding to a position group already loaded with young talent.

In return, the Bills receive a 2025 second-round pick (via the Minnesota Vikings). The Texans also receive a 2024 sixth-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round pick.

The Texans were the surprise of the NFL last season, going 10-7 and winning a playoff game with a rookie quarterback and rookie coach in DeMeco Ryans. The Diggs trade — coupled with other offseason upgrades — could see the Texans return to the playoffs next season and for years to come.

In free agency, Caserio attempted to sign running back Saquon Barkley before he eventually landed with the Philadelphia Eagles, so Caserio pivoted to veteran Joe Mixon. He also loaded up on defense by signing defensive end Danielle Hunter, defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi, defensive end Denico Autry, cornerback C.J. Henderson and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair. But Caserio saved his biggest splash for the offensive side of the ball by reeling in Diggs.

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The 30-year-old has put together six straight seasons with 1,000 receiving yards and has at least eight touchdowns in all but one of the last seven seasons. Diggs has expressed some unhappiness with his usage in Buffalo in recent seasons though the Bills had insisted they wouldn’t be moving on from him. Despite the team’s insistence that they wanted to keep Diggs in the fold, they made the decision that now was the right time to move the team’s most productive receiver. This offseason, the Bills have parted ways with several key players to clear cap.

The Texans jumped at the opportunity to add Diggs to a wide receiver room that already includes Nico Collins and Tank Dell. Collins finished 2023 with 80 catches for 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns and Dell was off to a fast start as a rookie (47 catches, 709 yards, seven touchdowns) before suffering a fractured fibula in Week 13 that ended his season.

Diggs is under contract through 2027 and will carry an $18.5 million cap hit for Houston in 2024.

Why did Buffalo trade Diggs?

The Bills’ purge of the first iteration of their build around quarterback Josh Allen continued with trading Diggs to the Texans, a move that seemed both close and far away depending on the day during this offseason. Diggs quickly became a superstar in Buffalo and immediately impacted the trajectory of Allen’s career, helping push the quarterback into another tier at his position. Diggs had an incredible run through the first half of the 2023 season and was on pace to set some career-high totals. As the season wore on, Diggs’ overall involvement lessened. His playing time dipped in certain games.

In the meantime, the Bills said all the right things — believing that Diggs was still a No. 1 receiver, that they expected him to be in Buffalo in 2024, and specifically be Allen’s No. 1 receiver. Diggs was widely regarded inside the building as an incredibly talented player, who is smart, thoughtful and works hard at his craft.

But as the offseason began to take shape, Diggs began referring to the business side of the league when the subject of his future in Buffalo came up, while also including that he’d like to stick around. An undercurrent within the fan base started to wonder what the outcome would be. Just hours before the trade was announced, Diggs responded to someone on X who wrote, “Does Josh benefit from having a top tier receiver, yes. Is he essential to his success, no” with “You sure ?” While Diggs was known for his cryptic social media messages that usually had nothing to do with his present job status or situation, that one rang a little louder than most.

Regardless of whether there was or wasn’t tension between the sides, the Bills moved their 30-year-old receiver in an attempt to maximize the value of their four-year investment, who helped them to a lot of playoff wins but success that fell just shy of their ultimate goal. They’ll quickly need to replace him with a new top target for Allen, as they have talked all offseason about still maintaining the goal of winning in 2024 despite making some noteworthy subtractions from the roster in Tre’Davious White, Mitch Morse, Jordan Poyer and now Diggs. — Joe Buscaglia, Bills beat writer

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Making sense of the trade from Bills’ perspective

The last memory of Diggs’ time in Buffalo will be his brutal drop against Kansas City in the second round of the playoffs. A play-action pass from Allen arced perfectly to Diggs, 55 yards downfield. With safety Justin Reid tumbling to the ground and nobody between them and the goal line, the football went right through Diggs’ arms.

That wasn’t Diggs’ final target of the night. There were two more Allen-to-Diggs misfires before the Bills lost by three points, and that should sum up where the front office was with their former superstar receiver.

He wasn’t a No. 1 anymore. He wasn’t HIM anymore. The player who began 2023 with a mushroom cloud ended with a fizzle.

First nine games: 70 catches for 834 yards, seven touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

Final 10 games, including playoffs: 47 catches for 422 yards and one touchdown.

Many couldn’t fathom Buffalo moving on from Diggs because of what would be a gargantuan salary-cap hit, reportedly the largest money pit for a receiver since the cap system was created 30 years ago, the year after Diggs was born. Bills general manager Brandon Beane didn’t have much leverage but seemed to do well to land a 2025 second-round pick compared to other recent star wideout trades.

The Dallas Cowboys got only a fifth-rounder for Amari Cooper two years ago, while the Los Angeles Chargers acquired a fourth-round pick for Keenan Allen last month. — Tim Graham, senior Bills writer

Analyzing the trade’s fantasy implications

Stroud was already in the top 5 for 2024, and you can argue he’s in the top tier now. Diggs should rebound from his poor second half and be back in the backend WR1 convo. Collins takes a slight hit down to WR2/3 range with a bit of DeVonta Smith up-and-down weekly outputs. Dell — if and when healthy — will be a boom/bust WR3/4.

With the Bills, we’ll have to see their draft plans — obviously in play for a first-round receiver. If they take one there, he’ll be in the top 20 discussion but don’t overlook Curtis Samuel’s addition, as he was used plenty with Brady in 2020. He’s at least a WR3, and Khalil Shakir has some sleeper upside with Dalton Kincaid an obvious breakout tight end and possibly top 5 option. — Jake Ciely, senior fantasy writer

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(Photo: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

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