When Stefon Diggs agreed to a four-year extension with the Bills, he started to get a lot of text messages. The wide receiver heard from teammates who were thrilled with the news, but he also heard from players around the league. He heard them praise the Bills in a star-studded AFC.
The commitment to and from Buffalo had an added layer of satisfaction, since Diggs knows there were plenty of people who did not think he would work out in Buffalo. He heard about that, too.
"It’s crazy, because when I first got traded to Buffalo, besides the Mafia and the people who are fans of Buffalo, not too many people thought it was going to work out," Diggs said.
"… And two years (later), now I can smile and say God works in mysterious ways. And I’m with my family, I’m with the right people, and I’ve got the right support system."
Diggs says that when he came to Buffalo in a 2020 trade with Minnesota, for the most part, he was looking at his next stop from a football perspective. Soon, the move took on a bigger meaning. Diggs found the Bills to be “family-oriented, just from the top to the bottom.” He embraced new relationships, and on Thursday, he signed his extension with the intent to retire as a Buffalo Bill.
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"I felt like my next spot was my last spot. I wanted it to be my home, and I didn’t want to ever go anywhere," he said. "... You get those relationships like the one I have with Josh (Allen) and the other guys on the team. It’s just like, alright damn, it starts feeling a lot like home."
Diggs is adamant that there’s still work to be done. There’s the obvious end goal of winning a Super Bowl.
He’s coming off a year when he had 1,225 receiving yards, 103 catches and 10 touchdowns. His 230 catches since he arrived in Buffalo set an NFL mark for receptions in a player’s first two years with a team. It’s a testament to both his talent and his quickly-formed chemistry with quarterback Josh Allen. As strong as that rapport is with Allen, Diggs thinks they can continue to grow together.
Diggs knows the expectations, and he brushed aside the idea that they bring added pressure. In fact, he’s been able to downplay outside noise since arriving in Buffalo.
“I didn't feel any pressure to be anybody but myself,” Diggs said. “That's why I feel like I'm in such a great place, because being yourself brings you comfort. It brings you happiness. And I don't have to wake up and say that I'm anybody else. I can just be myself, and they love me up.”
The returned love has shown up in concrete ways.
Diggs had never been a captain in Minnesota, college or high school. When he got the nod this past season for the first time, it was an affirmation that he brought more than just his stat line to Buffalo.
“I was so happy,” he said. “You know, that was one of my goals, was to be a captain in my second year. I wanted it in my first year so bad. But my second year, I wanted it to be like I’m a leader on this team, and I want to continue to lead this team the right way.”
His belief in the relationships he’s built around the building are part of why Diggs did not get involved in the negotiation process, he said. Diggs saw what was happening with wide receiver contracts around the league – it would be impossible for him to have missed it – but it didn’t sour his outlook.
“Those were some hard-working men, and they earned every dollar,” Diggs said. “So I kind of look at it as I clap for others and when my time comes, I’ll be there.”
Diggs said he didn’t talk to General Manager Brandon Beane. He let his agent, Adisa Bakari, handle the business side of things while he worked out in Miami and in Washington, D.C. There came a “feeling of just gratitude” when the extension was done. Immediately following that was a reupped motivation.
“I wanted to prove why I got paid the first time, and this time, I’m on another track to where I want to prove it all over again,” Diggs said. “I want to prove that I’m one of the best receivers in the league. I’m a part of one of the best teams in the league and I’m chasing. I’m back chasing again.”
The offense will change some under Ken Dorsey, with whom Diggs says he already has a great relationship. When Dorsey was the Bills quarterbacks coach, Diggs became comfortable telling him what plays and what routes he likes. Diggs knows his preferences won’t fully dictate the offense, but he’s “got 100% confidence” in the first-year offense coordinator.
It comes, once again, from taking the time to build those relationships.
“I talk to Dorsey every morning,” Diggs said. “We crack a joke every morning. And that was before he became the OC.”
But even with a fresh offense, Diggs doesn't plan on changing much. He just wants to add a little accessory to his ring finger.
"I'm going to be the same guy," Diggs said. "I'm excited. We’ve got a new year, a lot in front of us. I'm not going to bite off more than I can chew, but y'all know what – everybody knows – what I want. Everybody else wants the same thing, and hopefully we can stack some wins to get there.
"So I'm going to be the same person, I'm consistent. I'm not going to change who I am. I'm a man of integrity. I'm going to continue to be a leader, and I want to win."