How does Stefon Diggs arrival impact Nico Collins with Texans?

Entering last season, the Houston Texans’ receiving room had several question marks.

They had a few veteran targets like Dalton Schultz, Robert Woods, and Noah Brown, but Houston had to rely on young and unproven options such as Nico Collins and Tank Dell.

Fast forward a year and division title later, that lackluster receiving room looks to be one of the league’s more up-and-coming units after promising campaigns from Dell and Collins. 

On Wednesday, general manager Nick Caserio decided to swing by acquiring Buffalo Bills’ Pro Bowl receiver Stefon Diggs in exchange for a 2025 second-round, only bolstering the receiving corps more for Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud.

While Diggs’ addition is welcomed, it does leave Collins’ status up in the air entering the final year of his rookie contract. And with Houston voiding the final three years of Diggs’ current contract, the duo could be playing as teammates, but also rivals for a long-term deal down at NRG Drive.


By trading for Diggs, Houston views him as a No. 1 option. Well, maybe 1A/1B since Collins’ breakout season deserves recognition. And while Diggs might be the hot name around the league, Collins proved to be the more consistent playmaker down the stretch.

Through the first nine games, Diggs was on pace for a career year with 70 catches for 834 yards and seven touchdowns. But after the firing of Ken Doresy, Diggs’ production took a dip. He never surpassed 100 yards and only caught one touchdown in the final games. 

Diggs, who will turn 31 in November, needed a fresh start. His final memory in Buffalo was dropping a deep ball from Josh Allen in the divisional-round loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, eventually leading to speculation of his future in Orchard Park. 

Even before last year, there had been plenty of rumblings about Diggs’ dissatisfaction with his role. He missed the start of mandatory minicamp last season, and was frustrated with Allen in back-to-back playoff losses. 

Off-field (and somewhat on-field concerns) aside, there’s a reason why Houston was willing to cough up a mid-round pick for Diggs. When on-point, he remains one of the league’s more versatile receivers as a route-runner and target of depth. At one point, he was viewed as one of the league’s top vertical targets.

Will that be the same in Bobby Slowik’s offense? Regression seemed to set in last season as Diggs caught only six passes 20 or more yards down the field, tied for the fewest in a season while in Buffalo, according to Pro Football Focus

The good news is Diggs won’t need to be the main deep threat in Houston since Collins excelled in that category last season.  The former Michigan standout caught the largest percentage of deep ball targets of any receiver in the league last season at 68.4%, according to PFF. 

Diggs may be the number two receiver. Perhaps Houston views it that way, too, especially after voiding the final three years of his four-year, $104 million extension, thus making him a free agent next offseason. 

That’s not a concern. The league’s best offense usually features two standout targets instead of one. Last season, three of the four teams who made it to the championship had two receivers with over 68 receptions on 92-plus targets. 

One area the new Texan receiver will help in is against zone defenses. Diggs finished in the top 10 in targets and receptions against zone coverage, posting a 1.92 yards per route run, the 12th highest in the league.

Stroud dissected zone coverage in his rookie season and now gets one of the league’s best route runners who understands the intricacies of spacing between zone defenders. 

Conversely, teams can’t man up against Houston because Collins and Dell dice up one-on-one coverage. Collins finished second in the league with a 4.30 yards per route run, and Dell proved to be one of the best route runners throughout his rookie campaign.

The Texans freed up over $10 million last month by restructuring both Tytus Howard and Shaq Mason’s contracts. That money was used to acquire Diggs, but with his contract voided, it opens up Houston’s salary by over $20 million entering next offseason. 

Houston still could negotiate an extension for Collins before the start of the regular season, but Caserio may wait to play the long game. Collins, who became the third receiver in franchise history to total 1,200 receiving yards in a season, might also bet on himself to earn a much more substantial contract while stealing reps from Diggs.

Diggs’ arrival only strengthens Houston’s chances of returning to the postseason in Year 2 of the DeMeco Ryans’ era. After that, the Texans could risk losing both of their star receivers due to dominant seasons.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire