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Trade grades: Evaluating Texans' huge move for Diggs

Julian Catalfo / theScore

The Houston Texans made a gigantic splash Wednesday by acquiring four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs in a trade with the Buffalo Bills.

Under the full terms of the deal, the Bills are sending Diggs, a 2024 sixth-round pick, and a 2025 fifth-round selection to Houston in exchange for a 2025 second-round pick (via the Minnesota Vikings).

Here's how both teams made out.


The Texans already loaded up this offseason, but the acquisition of Diggs was the warning shot they needed to send to the rest of the AFC. There's no reason to dislike this deal from the Texans' point of view. A four-time Pro Bowler like Diggs upgrades Houston's offense - which already contained C.J. Stroud, Joe Mixon, and Nico Collins - from dangerous to a juggernaut. For the cost of a 2025 second-round pick, that's a trade worth making 100 times out of 100.

Diggs makes Stroud a legitimate MVP candidate. After throwing for over 4,000 yards in his first NFL season, the Offensive Rookie of the Year gets a three-headed monster of Diggs, Collins, and Tank Dell at receiver. Diggs is also the perfect complement to this receiving corps. While Collins and Dell posted explosive numbers in 2023, respectively averaging 16.2 and 15.1 yards per reception, Diggs is a route-running maestro who can attack both vertically and underneath. The importance of a security blanket like that can't be overstated when it comes to developing young passers like Stroud.

A player of Diggs' caliber demands serious attention, which should help Collins and Dell pick up where they left off. Diggs will also affect the run game, where offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik's usage of 11 personnel with Diggs, Collins, and Dell will lead to lighter boxes for Mixon to run through. There just aren't enough defenders to account for all them, let alone stop them.

More than anything, though, the trade represents another stroke of genius from Texans general manager Nick Caserio. One year ago, the Texans looked set to begin a rebuild with a new coach and quarterback. A season later, they are in the conversation about the AFC's top heavyweights. Caserio deserves a lot of credit.

Diggs may or may not be the final piece of Caserio's plan, but it's his biggest move to date. While there are lots of advocates for going all-in with a quarterback under a rookie contract, Caserio's calculated aggressiveness is showing how it's done. Diggs was the DEFCON 1 move, but similarly smart thinking led to the trade for Mixon and free-agent deal for Danielle Hunter. Caserio's providing a blueprint for how teams should treat their first-round quarterback investments: Leave no stone unturned and no doubt that they had the resources to give them the best possible chances of success.

Although Diggs is approaching his age-31 season, there are safeguards in place should he enter his decline. He won't be expected to carry the load like he did in Buffalo where the passing offense flowed through him. His contract also has no guaranteed salary remaining after 2024, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap. That makes this a low-risk move even if Diggs' play falls off a cliff.

For the cost of a future second-round pick, the Texans potentially raised the floor and ceiling of their championship aspirations in the coming seasons while taking on little risk. That's a home run.

Grade: A+


Before we consider the on-field impact of trading Diggs to the Texans (spoiler: it's bad), we have to dive into the absolutely wild financial implications for Buffalo.

Diggs will carry a $31.096 million dead-money charge in 2024, a non-quarterback record by about $4 million. The Bills also lose $4 million in net cap space. Those eye-watering numbers are why so many people dismissed the Bills trading Diggs as a possibility. He seemed locked in after signing a four-year, $104-million extension in April 2022, which was restructured a year later. But Buffalo bid farewell to a host of veterans this offseason. Trading Diggs is the final confirmation that the club realizes it needs to reload instead of trying to squeeze every drop of competitiveness out of a squad that's been on the cusp in recent years but never gone all the way.

Diggs will be off the books in 2025, but Buffalo paid a very high price for that freedom. The Bills did do better in draft-pick compensation than the Los Angeles Chargers, who received a fourth-round pick for Keenan Allen. But Diggs has been a far more productive and healthy player than Allen, and conventional wisdom indicates that waiting an extra year to receive a pick drops the value of the selection by a round. The Bills also had to send two Day 3 picks to Houston to seal the deal. Buffalo simply could've avoided this pain by not extending Diggs, who was under contract through 2023 on his previous pact.

On the field ... Did the Bills watch Patrick Mahomes knock them out of the playoffs (again) and win the Super Bowl (again) with a weak wide receiver group and think, "Hey, that ain't a bad idea"? Buffalo now has serious questions at receiver. The team signed Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins in free agency, but you felt much better about their potential impacts with Diggs in the picture. Quarterback Josh Allen is undoubtedly talented enough to succeed without a top wideout group, but Samuel, Hollins, and Khalil Shakir won't keep many defensive coordinators up at night, and Allen has his work cut out to create chemistry with the trio.

Even if Diggs was showing signs of decline - he had zero 100-yard games from Week 7 through the divisional-round loss - he's still much better than what the Bills will trot out in 2024, even if they use their first-round pick (No. 28) to land a receiver in a stacked class.

This is a long-term move for Buffalo, and it could end up being the right one. Diggs has long had a reputation as a diva, and at some point, his talents were no longer going to balance out the distractions he creates. But the Bills will be worse in 2024 without him, and they can't be commended for backing themselves so thoroughly into a corner that they had to waste a year of prime Josh Allen. How quickly they reinvigorate the weapons around the star quarterback will go a long way in determining how we evaluate this trade in hindsight.

Ultimately, the Bills got the bad end of this deal by taking an astronomical dead-money hit, severely weakening an offense that carried them last season, and strengthening one of their main AFC competitors.

Grade: C

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