Stefon Diggs is a 25-year-old receiver, coming off a 100-catch season and signed through 2023. Now, it seems, he wants out of Minnesota.
So there's got to be some way for the receiver-needy Jets to get him in a trade, right?
Well, probably not, because according to multiple NFL sources and reports, the Vikings just aren't ready to make Diggs available. Clearly they know he's frustrated - apparently with his role in their offense -- and they appear willing to endure it, given his age, talent, and relatively affordable deal.
But every team has their price. The Vikings just have to decide to set it.
Now, it's hard to even guess what that price might be until the Vikings decide to listen to offers, but one NFL speculated it would likely cost "a first-round pick, plus". The reason is because of the easiest comparison - the Dallas Cowboys' trade for receiver Amari Cooper last October. The Cowboys sent the Oakland Raiders a first-round pick in return.
Cooper was 24 at the time and still on his rookie contract, which will cost the Cowboys $13.9 million in 2019, the fifth-year option year. And the fact the Raiders were able to get a first-rounder in return a wildly inconsistent player not signed to a long-term deal was stunning to many around the league. Cooper was struggling for the Raiders at the time. He had 22 catches for 280 yards in the first six games of last season. The year before, in 14 games, he had just 48 catches for 680 yards. That was a far cry from the receiver who averaged 78 catches, 1,112 yards in his first two NFL seasons.
In hindsight, the Cooper trade looks like a steal for Dallas, which only adds to the potential asking price for Diggs, a young receiver who seems to be on an ascent. He had 102 catches for 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns last year, even though he was the No. 2 receiver for the Vikings behind Adam Thielen. He may not have Cooper's ceiling - though that's debatable - though he has proven to be just as explosive, and good be just as valuable.
And considering Diggs has four more years and about $48 million left on the five-year, $72 million contract extension he signed over the summer. He also carries an average salary cap number over those years of just $14.1 million. So he might prove to be a steal compared to Cooper - especially if Cooper breaks the Cowboys' bank with his next contract. Diggs is getting close to what No. 1 receivers have been getting, but certainly not on the high end.
And those No. 1 receiver prices are certain to go up, especially if the salary cap soars, as expected, when a new collective bargagining agreement is eventually signed. Diggs brings some important cost certainty to whomever gets him - and that matters to teams.
So that's where the "plus" comes in, and is why the Vikings aren't likely to trade him for anything less than an overwhelming offer.
What else could the Jets offer besides a package of high picks? They probably don't have a lot to offer Minnesota, considering they are in the final stages of rebuilding and they can't really afford to give up any of their young talent. The Jets' most expendable players are also among their most expensive and controversial - like defensive lineman Leonard Williams and cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Williams is attractive because of his age and ability, but there's no way the Jets would get a player like Diggs considering how much Williams has underachieved and the fact that he's unsigned for next year.
So a package of draft picks, including a first, is likely what the entry fee will be if there ever is a Diggs sweepstakes. And if he is ever made available by the Vikings, Jets GM Joe Douglas would have a tough decision to make. He needs his draft picks, particularly the high ones, to begin building this team the way he wants it to be built. But is it worth giving up a couple for a ready-made receiver like Diggs?
That answer could also change depending on what happens with the Jets on Sunday in Philadelphia. If they lose and fall to 0-4 their playoff dreams are essentially over. Diggs' value is going to be much higher for an actual contender.
And if the Jets are out of the race, getting into a bidding war for him wouldn't make much sense at all. Neither would giving up a first-round pick.