Stefon Diggs will face his former team for the first time on Sunday when the Bills host the Vikings in a potential statement game for Minnesota. 

It’s been more than two years since Minnesota traded an unhappy Diggs to Buffalo in the 2020 offseason for a package including a 2020 first-round pick. Saying it was a win-win deal for both sides would be an understatement.

The Vikings used the first-round pick from the Diggs’ deal to draft Justin Jefferson 22nd overall. Jefferson didn’t waste any time filling Diggs’ shoes, racking up 1,400 receiving yards, at the time the most by a rookie in the Super Bowl era. He also leads the league in receiving yards since 2020 and has Minnesota off to a 7-1 start this year. They are back to prominence for the first time since Diggs’ days when he famously caught the walk-off touchdown in the Minneapolis Miracle.

Diggs also hit the ground running, setting NFL records for most receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535) in a player’s first season with a team. He is fourth in the league in receiving yards since the move and has been the key ingredient in Josh Allen’s leap to superstardom along with Buffalo’s emergence in the AFC.

Both receivers have played exactly 41 games since the deal. The only player with more receiving yards in their first 41 games with a team in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) is Odell Beckham Jr.

Yards

Team

Odell Beckham Jr. (2014-16)

3,928

Giants

Justin Jefferson (2020-22)

3,883

Vikings

Stefon Diggs (2020-22)

3,617

Bills

Minnesota knows better than anyone, it doesn’t always work out like this. They dealt Randy Moss to the Raiders in 2004 for a deal centered around the seventh overall pick, wide receiver Troy Williamson. Williamson was a bust and Moss lasted two seasons in Oakland before exploding with the Patriots.

Both sides have struck gold this time around. It’s the only trade since at least 1994 where a veteran player was dealt for a first-round pick and both made multiple Pro Bowls for their respective new teams.

It’s shaping up to be one of the most mutually beneficial trades in league history. Here’s the competition:

Notable NFL trades that benefitted both sides

2004: Clinton Portis-Champ Bailey trade

Washington traded future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round pick (Tatum Bell) to the Broncos for Clinton Portis in 2004. Bailey made eight Pro Bowls with Denver, who managed to churn out one productive running back after another without Portis. Portis had four 1,000-yard rushing seasons in Washington, racking up nearly 7,000 rushing yards.

1999: Marshall Faulk to the Rams

The Colts traded Marshall Faulk to the Rams in the 1999 offseason in what sparked two Hall of Fame running back careers. Faulk won an MVP and Super Bowl with the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ while the move spurred Indianapolis to draft Edgerrin James fourth overall in 1999. While the pick used to take Edge wasn’t directly from the Faulk deal, the trade certainly helped shape the two most dominant offenses in the league at the time. It also helped propel the Hall of Fame careers of Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning.

2004: Giants, Chargers swap draft rights to Philip Rivers and Eli Manning

The Giants and Chargers essentially swapped Eli Manning and Philip Rivers on draft night in 2004. Manning became a two-time Super Bowl MVP and both currently sit in the top 10 of the all-time passing touchdowns and passing yards leaderboards

2001: Michael Vick-LaDainian Tomlinson deal

The Falcons traded up for the No. 1 overall pick the day before the 2001 NFL Draft, which they used to take Michael Vick. The Chargers used the fifth-overall pick from that deal on Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, while also taking Drew Brees (separate from Vick trade) the next round.  

2016: Jared Goff-Derrick Henry trade

The Titans got Derrick Henry in the second round of 2016 with one of the six picks they received for giving up the No. 1 overall pick used to draft Jared Goff. Goff helped lead the Rams to the Super Bowl in his third season while Henry returned the Titans to relevance while winning consecutive rushing titles in 2019 and 2020. Even after Goff struggled and was traded to Detroit, that deal brought in Matthew Stafford and a Super Bowl.

1987: Eric Dickerson three-way trade

Eric Dickerson was traded from the Rams to the Colts after rushing for at least 1,800 yards in three of his four seasons. The Bills also got involved, sending a player and picks to the Rams for the rights to linebacker Cornelius Bennett. Dickerson helped lead Indianapolis to the postseason in 1987 and won a rushing title in 1988, while Bennett was a force during the Bills’ four straight Super Bowl trips.

1993: Joe Montana to the Chiefs

Joe Montana asked for a trade to the Chiefs after an elbow injury and subsequent quarterback controversy with Steve Young. Montana led Kansas City to its first AFC title game in 24 years and the deal sparked Steve Young’s Hall of Fame career and another title for San Francisco.

1978: Oilers trade up for Earl Campbell

The Buccaneers gave up the first pick in the 1978 draft after winning just two games in their first two seasons of existence. The Oilers used that pick on future Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell while the Buccaneers got a haul that included quarterback Doug Williams. Campbell won three straight rushing titles to start his career while leading the “Earlers” to back-to-back conference championship games. Williams led Tampa Bay to a turnaround that included a conference championship game and playoff appearances in three of his first four years.

2017: Patrick Mahomes deal

The Chiefs traded up with the Bills for the No. 10 pick in 2017, taking Patrick Mahomes. Buffalo maneuvered with their picks from that deal to eventually get Pro Bowlers Tre’Davious White, Tremaine Edmunds and Dion Dawkins, among others. It wouldn’t have quite paid off for both teams, though, had Buffalo not also drafted Josh Allen a year later with picks unrelated to the Mahomes’ deal.

There are plenty of other trades that worked out for both sides, but perhaps none quite like the Diggs-Jefferson trade. One involving a first-round pick and heir at the same position where both players launched into superstardom. And who knows what the future holds? Both could also help win a first Super Bowl for their respective franchises.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *