NFL rumors: Here's how close Patriots came to Stefon Diggs trade last offseason

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Nick Goss
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New report details how close Pats came to Stefon Diggs trade last offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Buffalo Bills took a huge leap in the 2020 NFL season by winning the AFC East for the first time since 1995, and you could argue the trade to acquire star wide receiver Stefon Diggs last offseason was the move that put them over the top.

Diggs was the best wideout in the league this season, at least statistically. He led all players with 127 receptions and 1,535 receiving yards, in addition to eight receiving touchdowns.

Bringing the 27-year-old veteran into the offense also was a major reason why Bills quarterback Josh Allen went from being a good quarterback to a legit MVP candidate this season.

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All of this success in Buffalo nearly didn't happen, though. There was a chance the New England Patriots could have made a trade for Diggs. In fact, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday some interesting details on the buildup to the move.

"Sources say that when the Minnesota Vikings were poised to deal star receiver Stefon Diggs on March 16 in a blockbuster trade that included a first-round pick, it was the Bills and New England Patriots as the two final suitors," Rapoport wrote.

"In fact, before Minnesota received four picks -- including a first-round pick -- from Buffalo for the playmaker, the Vikings called New England to give them a chance to match or improve the offer. When Bill Belichick and the Patriots declined, Diggs was off to the Bills."

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March was a tough month for Patriots fans. Tom Brady officially signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 20, and a few days earlier reports began surfacing about the Bills making a deal for Diggs.

Diggs is a very talented player, but the Patriots probably would have still missed the playoffs if they had acquired him. The Patriots' passing attack was among the league's worst in 2020, and even though a lack of top-tier talent at wide receiver played a part in those struggles, poor quarterback play was the main culprit.

It all worked out for the Bills, who will play the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. A victory for the Bills would send the franchise to its first Super Bowl since 1993.