Stefon Diggs trade shows Texans, Bills headed in opposite directions

The Texans have been assembling a star-studded cast this offseason, using the financial flexibility afforded by C.J. Stroud’s rookie contract to close the gap with the AFC’s elite. 

On the flip side, the Bills continue to recalibrate, looking like a team taking a step back in the upcoming season in hopes of reestablishing its place as a top contender in 2025 and beyond. 

Those are the big takeaways from Wednesday’s reported blockbuster trade that rocked the NFL, with star wide receiver Stefon Diggs going from Buffalo to Houston. The Bills are receiving a 2025 second-round pick in the deal, while the Texans get Diggs and two draft selections: a 2024 sixth-rounder and a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Diggs, 30, is just the latest big addition made by general manager Nick Caserio this offseason. Houston added star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter (two years, $49 million), standout defensive lineman Denico Autry (two years, $20 million) and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (three-years, $34 million) in free agency. The Texans also traded for former Bengals Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon and signed him to a three-year, $27 million extension. 

With Diggs in the fold, the Texans on paper have arguably the most offensive firepower in the NFL. Their No. 2 receiver is now Nico Collins, who’s coming off a career season: 80 catches for 1,297 yards (eighth in the NFL) and eight touchdowns. Their WR3 becomes Tank Dell, who was arguably the league’s best rookie receiver not named Puka Nacua before suffering a season-ending leg injury in Week 13. Dell, Houston’s 2023 third-round pick, had been on pace for more than 1,000 yards receiving. 

Standout tight end Dalton Schultz, who agreed to a multi-year extension this offseason, is a productive pass-catcher as well. He had 59 receptions for 635 yards and five touchdowns in 2023. With Mixon in the backfield and Stroud as the heart of it all, this is a Texans offense that should put defenses in constant conflict. 

Considering the upgrades to the defensive front as well, the Texans are well-positioned to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens, the AFC finalists last season. 

The Bills, meanwhile, are far from that reality. 

Diggs joins the long list of cornerstone players and key contributors who won’t be back in Buffalo in 2024, for varying reasons. Many of the changes were made to get the books in order. Safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, cornerback Tre’Davious White and center Mitch Morse have been among those cut as cap casualties. Gabriel Davis signed with the Jaguars. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd joined the 49ers.

Does Diggs make C.J. Stroud and the Texans Super Bowl contenders?

Does Diggs make C.J. Stroud and the Texans Super Bowl contenders?

The nature of Diggs’ departure stands in sharp contrast to all the others, of course. His relationship with the Bills had grown murky, and they had no financial incentive to deal him. The move leaves the Bills with a $31.096 million dead cap charge for 2024, the highest-ever for a wide receiver, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Bills, however, were already a franchise barreling toward a recalibration. 

Trading Diggs only supercharges that reset. 

For better or for worse, Buffalo will lean more on its younger players and draft hits to capitalize on the prime of QB Josh Allen, whose contract is becoming a challenge for roster building. (His cap hit is $30.536 million in the upcoming season, and will rise to $43.231 million in 2025.) Allen also now has one of the NFL’s weaker receiver rooms to work with. With Diggs and Davis gone, Buffalo’s leading returning pass-catcher is tight end Dalton Kincaid, who had 673 receiving yards last season.

The Bills are scheduled to face the Texans on the road this season. 

Details have not yet been disclosed, but this much is expected to be clear that day: the gap between the teams.

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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