Before Sean McVay had ever coached his first game with the Rams, but after L.A. had signed Robert Woods away from the Bills and drafted Cooper Kupp, Les Snead made another trade in August of 2017: He sent cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second round pick to Buffalo for wide receiver Sammy Watkins and a sixth round pick.
The deal didn’t quite work out like Snead had hoped for, although the sixth rounder turned into a quality defensive lineman in Sebastian Joseph-Day and the Bills didn’t quite make out like highway robbery either. Still, Watkins had eight touchdowns in his one season with L.A. and helped the offense turn around from worst to first in 2017.
Six years later, will history repeat itself? The talk of the NFL on Monday is Buffalo star receiver Stefon Diggs yelling at Josh Allen during the Bills’ loss to the Bengals on Sunday in the divisional round, then storming out of the locker room (twice) before even some of the coaches had made it back.
It’s not the worst timing for Snead to get active again and if there’s one GM in the NFL who gets hot under the collar for a wide receiver on the move, it is Samuel Lester Snead.
Want me to be okay with losing ? Nah— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) January 23, 2023
The last time that Diggs was publicly upset with his franchise, he was traded from the Minnesota Vikings to the Bills in March, 2020. Buffalo sent a first rounder (which turned into Justin Jefferson), a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth for Diggs and a seventh.
Diggs signed a five-year, $72 million contract in 2018 with Minnesota and then a four-year, $96 million extension with Buffalo last year. He has been one of the top-three most productive receivers in the NFL over the last three years, averaging 117 catches for 1,453 yards and 10 touchdowns per season.
How could it shock anyone if Stefon Diggs is traded just a year after the Green Bay Packers traded Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders at essentially the same age? Nobody thought the Packers would ever separate Aaron Rodgers and Adams, so why should we be shocked if Diggs gets traded for the second time in three years and is moved away from Allen?
Can the Rams do it? This is the modern NFL and of course they can. The only question is if they should.
Trading Diggs will be financially complicated for the Bills, but restructuring Allen is practically a formality and saves up to $21.5 million. The Rams hold the 36th overall pick in the draft and as I wrote on Monday, the question of who L.A. can get as a WR2 next to Cooper Kupp is up in the air right now. A rookie is much cheaper than Stefon Diggs, and also not guaranteed to be any better than many of the second round busts we’ve seen come into the NFL in the last three years which is...most of them.
Two of them play for the Rams, although I’ll be kind and say they aren’t busts they’re just...”developing”.
There is also another wrinkle that could offset the trade compensation and the financial compensation, although this won’t make all the fans happy: Jalen Ramsey. Buffalo’s cornerbacks group has a premier player in Tre’Davious White and then some “developing” players in Kaiir Elam, Taron Johnson, Dane Jackson, and Christian Benford. White missed 11 games in 2022.
Ramsey would transform the Bills defense and pair with White to be an unusually dominant force in a conference with Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow. And now Trevor Lawrence emerging in the AFC South. Ramsey carries a $17 million base salary that Buffalo would have to pay, which is the same as the dead money on trading Diggs. They could also get Von Miller to restructure his contract to be reunited with his former Rams teammate.
But the Bills and Rams came up with the Watkins trade after the June 1 deadline, meaning that if the Bills and Rams could do it again, then Buffalo would save $8.4 million against the cap by trading Diggs and could easily make the money work. The L.A. Rams would be losing a great corner, but creating the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL. The Rams could even by then convince Buffalo to take a chance on Allen Robinson since L.A. would have paid his roster bonus by then and they could agree to pay part of his salary.
This would give Josh Allen at least one more piece at receiver to play next to Gabe Davis, Dawson Knox, and Khalil Shakir. If the Bills know by the draft that they will need a receiver, and they might already be thinking that way, they could pick someone else to help build the corps for 2023.
It may sound sensational, that the Rams would trade for a Bills receiver and/or move a cornerback and a draft pick to complete the deal. So sensational...that they’ve already done it once before.