Stefon Diggs doesn’t need a great No. 2 in order for Buffalo’s offense to shine. Even with John Brown sidelined for almost half of the 2020 season, Diggs was still able to break out in his first year with Buffalo — leading the league with 127 receptions and 1530 yards and setting new career highs in catch rate (76.5%) and receptions per game (7.9) as well. Now, Brown is officially gone in Buffalo, and nothing should change.
After a season and a half of the best football of his career, Brown was released by the Bills, opening up $8 million in cap space. In Brown’s stead comes Emmanuel Sanders. While Sanders has shown that he can still be a valuable tool in the passing game and mentor for young receivers, he is not going to be able to replace Brown. Several reports indicate that the Bills have a lot of faith in their young receiver Davis, and that the 33-year-old Sanders — despite signing a $6 million contract in the offseason — could even take a backseat to Davis during the season.
That’s all good and well, but what if Davis doesn’t pan out like the Bills are hoping? Sanders can surely step in, but he won’t be a serious outside threat that takes attention away from Diggs. There’s always Cole Beasley (82 catches, 967 yards), but a slot receiver with one great year under his belt after eight average seasons needs to prove a little more before I, along with many other football fans, are sold on him. Not to mention the fact that he could miss games this season with COVID complications should he remain unvaccinated. The uncertainty around Buffalo’s No. 2, 3, and 4 receivers has led many members of the Bills Mafia to question whether or not the team should go out and add another strong receiving threat — someone even better than John Brown.
Zach Ertz is a name that’s been tossed around a few times.
Prior to signing with the Baltimore Ravens, Sammy Watkins was rumored (although Watkins did say it was unlikely) to return to Buffalo. While Odell Beckham Jr. rumors never seriously swirled in the Buffalo hot stove, there were several writers and analysts who believed OBJ would be a good fit alongside Diggs and Allen. But would adding a big-name wideout really help the Bills? Probably not. In fact, it might actually hurt the team in the long run.
Diggs has gone on record stating that he desires a lot of attention in his team’s passing attack. The fact that Minnesota was too committed to running the football played a big role in the star receiver’s trade request. If Diggs has to end up sharing the limelight with another strong receiving option, those frustrations Diggs had in Minnesota could start popping up once again should the Bills start losing a few games in a row.
Diggs is undoubtedly a phenomenal talent, but his meteoric rise in production his first year in Buffalo can largely be attributed to Josh Allen. With Josh Allen under center, the Buffalo Bills have seen three different receivers produce career-best seasons: Brown, Beasley, and Diggs. Where Buffalo was once a place receivers went to die, it now seems to be where receivers go to thrive. A receiver like Odell Beckham Jr. could be extremely useful and see a huge career resurgence in Sean McDermott’s system, but that would also mean Diggs would see less targets — something he’s expressed frustration about in the past.
Diggs has shown the potential to be the best receiver in the game in Buffalo. While grabbing another huge threat to pair opposite him sounds like an incredible plan, it might actually hinder Diggs’ impact. That may not sound like anything to worry about but if the Bills underperform in 2022 (which is semi-likely given that they have two games against the much-improved Dolphins, as well as matchups with Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Kansas City, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay), Diggs’ old frustrations could start to bubble up again, and could cause friction in the Buffalo locker room.
I like Diggs, but he is meant to be highlighted. His skill set is best suited for an offense where he is the undisputed top option. Perhaps Zimmer just vastly under-utilized his star receiver in Minnesota. That’s definitely a huge possibility. As long as Buffalo doesn’t follow in Zimmer’s same footsteps, they should be fine. The team’s offense is great as is. Don’t go searching for someone to share the limelight with your top guy.