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Grading the Texans trade of Stefon Diggs from Bills

The first goal for any rebuilding franchise is to find a promising quarterback with five years of roster control. The second? Build around him and compete for a title while he’s still on a rookie contract.

Consider all those boxes checked for the Houston Texans following Wednesday’s trade.

The Texans are adding former Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs in exchange for a 2025 second-round pick acquired from the Minnesota Vikings. The deal will now have Diggs in Houston through the 2027 season.

Houston continues to build around Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud entering his second season. The former first-rounder already has two breakout targets in Nico Collins and Tank Dell back on rookie contracts.

Last month, the Texans inked a new three-year, $36 million extension with Dalton Schultz just before the franchise tag deadline and also brought in Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowler Joe Mixon. Both are here for the long-term after the 27-year-old tailback agreed to terms on a new three-year, $27 million extension after being traded for a seventh-round pick.

Diggs, 30, is the missing piece. He’s the final element needed to turn Houston from a rising AFC South champion into a legitimate AFC contender for years to come. But how does this trade actually grade out for the Texans past 2024?

Trade details

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Oct 3, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs with the ball as Houston Texans strong safety Justin Reid (20) defends during the second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

  • Bills receive:

    • 2025 second-round pick

  • Texans receive:

    • WR Stefon Diggs, a 2024 sixth-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round pick.

 

Jan 15, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) warms up before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 2024 AFC wild card game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Initial grade: B+

What more could Stroud want entering his second season as the face of a franchise? The Texans put their faith in the Ohio State passer to deliver and now, they’re holding up their end of the bargain by building around him for the next several seasons.

If anything, Buffalo needs Diggs much more than the Texans do, but nobody at NRG Stadium is complaining about the move. Instead of having one 1,000-yard playmaker who still has the best years ahead of him, Houston has two options that could be in for dominant seasons.

Collins, who became the third receiver in franchise history to total 1,200 receiving yards in a single season, can focus on building off a promising Year 3 as he enters a contract year. Diggs’ $19 million salary in 2024 shouldn’t stop Caserio from inking a long-term deal with Collins before the start of the new seasons.

As for Diggs himself, he’s been one of the league’s more consistent playmakers since being drafted out of Maryland in 2015. He’s finished with six consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns in Buffalo, including four 1,110-plus-yard campaigns during his four seasons with the Bills.

The duo of Diggs and Collins — when healthy — should be one of the league’s finest. Add in Dell, whose promising rookie season ended in Week 13’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Texans could have the best trio in all of football.

Seriously, who is comparable to this passing attack if Stroud only improves? Better yet, which secondary will be able to stop it on Sundays? The Cleveland Browns were torched by Stroud in the Wild Card Round, and that was with only Schultz and Collins taking reps.

Perhaps the best part of the deal comes as a parting gift from Buffalo, which also makes this the worst part of the move altogether. The Bills are taking on all $31 million of Diggs’ dead cap hit, meaning Houston will only have to pay for the rest of his salary over three years.

On paper, it’s a win for Houston. Internally, will it be a loss in the long run?

The Texans are building a promising culture headlined under DeMeco Ryans. They have four foundational pieces all under the age of 25 and could have more depending on the results of the 2024.

Camaraderie and resilience paved the way to Houston’s first division title in four years. Will Diggs be welcoming to the culture already established? Keep in mind this is a Pro Bowl receiver who’s been unhappy in his situation with both the Vikings and Bills in recent years.

What happens if Houston loses in the first round of the playoffs next winter? What version of Diggs will fans see? Will it be a veteran pass-catcher comforting his quarterback in a hard-fought battle, or will it be a version of a frustrated receiver that only saw seven targets instead of 12?

Fans should commend Houston for embracing the logistics of a rookie contract and building a foundation around it. A trio of Diggs, Collins, and Dell could be lethal by midseason. Add in Schultz and Mixon, it’s hard imagining Bobby Slowik’s offense not being top-five in nearly every category.

The only significant concern for Houston comes with attitude. The last thing the Texans need is to spoil the winning recipe they have cooking with a bad egg that leaves a foul stench and outlook past 2024.

If Diggs continues to be the on-field player he was in Orchard Park, the Texans should be dreaming about potentially hosting a slew of playoff games over the next three years.

If the attitude lingers outside of Western New York, Houston might have a problem.

At least after 2024.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire