Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs Jan 9, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrates a catch that was ruled incomplete with teammate quarterback Josh Allen (17) against the New York Jets during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The first Stefon Diggs trade was one of the greatest win-win deals in recent memory. For the second to live up to that lofty standard is asking a lot— and the Buffalo Bills appear to be on the short end.

When Diggs was sent from the Minnesota Vikings to the Bills four years ago, everyone got what they wanted. The Vikings used the first-round pick they received from Buffalo to select a younger, cheaper, and better wide receiver in Justin Jefferson. Meanwhile, the Bills got a veteran playmaker who helped unlock the potential of Josh Allen. Diggs eventually got paid

Trades rarely work out this well for both franchises. Since then, Jefferson has 5,899 receiving yards and 30 touchdown catches in 60 regular-season games. Diggs has 5,372 receiving yards and 37 touchdown catches in 66 regular-season games. From a business point of view, Minnesota can claim victory for getting All-Pro production at a discount price. From a football point of view, Buffalo won a playoff game every year with Diggs, including reaching the AFC Championship in his first season.

Now the Bills are hoping to replicate the success of the previous Diggs trade. On Wednesday, they shockingly dealt him. For the Houston Texans, this immediately gives them arguably the best trio of wide receivers in the league, pairing Diggs with youngsters Nico Collins and Tank Dell. For Buffalo, this is a head-scratcher. The Bills sent away their most talented skill position player for $31 million in dead money in 2024. That’s believed to be the largest-ever dead-money salary-cap hit for a wide receiver.

Bills’ management will defend this trade by saying they got rid of an older receiver who’s in decline and a malcontent. Diggs is 30, and wide receivers usually decline after reaching that age. Last season, his numbers mysteriously dropped in the second half, with only one touchdown catch over his final eight regular-season games. He didn’t have a 100-yard receiving over his last 11 games.

Has Diggs lost a step? Was he hurt? Were there chemistry issues with Allen? Could you blame the new offense under Joe Brady, who took over as coordinator midseason for the fired Ken Dorsey? Perhaps it was a combination of all four. Maybe we won’t know the full extent of what happened.

What is clear is that Diggs wore out his welcome. It’s probably not a coincidence that Diggs was ousted a day after a curious response to a post on X/Twitter that said, “Does Josh benefit from having a top tier receiver, yes. Is he essential to his success, no.”

Diggs replied, “You sure?”

Diggs has seemingly been unhappy in Buffalo for a while. Now he gets another fresh start with a new team where he’ll be asked once again to help boost a young quarterback in C. J. Stroud. Good for Houston. But for the Bills, this is a step back for a franchise that had Super Bowl aspirations.

Even Bills general manager Brandon Beane said, “Are we better today? Probably not.”

The upside for Buffalo is that they get some future financial flexibility and draft picks. This move likely means they will use their first-round draft pick — No. 28 overall — on a receiver. Pro Football Focus predicts that the Bills will select Texas’ Adonai Mitchell. This draft is deep at wide receiver, so it’s possible that like the Vikings in 2020, Buffalo could pick a suitable replacement for Diggs.

Or it could be a trade that the Bills regret for a long time.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.