ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Stefon Diggs‘ knowledge of the Buffalo Bills was limited.
When he was traded to the organization in March 2020 for four draft picks, most of what Diggs knew about the Bills came from Buffalo’s 27-6 win over his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, in 2018.
Despite that, before even getting to Buffalo, Diggs knew that he wanted the Bills to be his last team. The final stop of his career. And he was confident it would work out.
“I wanted it to be my home, and I didn’t want to ever go anywhere,” Diggs said of his mindset.
Buffalo needed a veteran wideout to pair with Josh Allen, its emerging young quarterback, but whether the deal would be successful, with so much draft capital involved, was unknown.
“Obviously, time will tell if this move for Stefon was right,” general manager Brandon Beane said in 2020. “Sometimes the best-laid plans don’t always translate.”
Fast-forward just over two years, and Diggs entered a news conference room on Thursday decked from head to toe in Bills blue with his family by his side. It was minutes after he had officially signed a four-year, $104 million extension that links him to the team through the 2027 season with the idea of retiring in Buffalo.
The former fifth-round pick’s prediction that it would work out, in part because of his belief in Allen’s talent from the beginning, proved to be correct.
“When I was anticipating coming here [in 2020], I knew Josh Allen was a good quarterback,” Diggs said. “I watched him beat us … and he was just balling like crazy. So, I had confidence in Josh.”
In Buffalo, Diggs, 28, found a place he could be himself. Relationships like the one he has with Allen played a large part in his desire to stay for the long haul. In fact, the biggest thing that surprised Diggs about coming to Buffalo was how much it felt like home.
“They took a real chance, and it wasn’t business when I got it here,” Diggs said. “… When you talk about pressure, I didn’t feel any pressure to be anybody but myself. That’s why I feel like I’m such in 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 move to extend Diggs, with two years remaining on his previous deal, both pays the wide receiver what he’s worth — earning the second-most guaranteed money of any current wide receiver at $70 million — and further cements Buffalo’s roster as arguably the most talented in the NFL.
“As far as acquiring the right pieces, [the Bills are] trusted. They’ve done it,” Diggs said. “I guess I can say I’m a little bit of a prime example. They bring the right guys in, and our defense was [tied for] first for the majority of categories last year. Every year is a new year and I see us doing nothing but trying to get better.”
While several wide receivers received record-setting deals, Diggs never panicked or got too involved in negotiations, preferring to let his agent, Adisa Bakari, handle that. A sense of gratitude set in when the agreement was completed.
“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.”
In two years with the Bills, Diggs has earned his first two Pro Bowl appearances, including a career- and franchise-record-setting performance in 2020 with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards. His 230 receptions and 2,760 receiving yards with Buffalo rank him first and fourth, respectively, among players in their first two seasons with a team in NFL history, per Elias Sports Bureau.
But perhaps his biggest step forward has come off the field. After the roller-coaster experience of his five seasons in Minnesota, Diggs set a goal once he got to Buffalo to become a captain quickly.
“I wanted it in my first year so bad,” Diggs said. But it took until 2021 for him to earn the honor for the first time in his career.
“Stef has done a phenomenal job of changing the culture, or helping change the culture,” coach Sean McDermott said at the recent league meetings. “His competitive nature, his ability to put the team first at a position that is not always know for that — I think goes a long way in our locker room and [with] us, in terms of the team that we’ve become. I think he’s got a great dynamic with Josh on and off the field, and a lot of the other players in our locker room as well. He works extremely hard at it, and the results are out there.”
Those results have played a key role in assisting Allen’s growth into one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. The duo made the Bills the first team to give a quarterback $100 million guaranteed and a receiver $70 million guaranteed at the same time, per ESPN Stats & Information research.
Amid a crowd of AFC contenders, Buffalo now has three of its top players — Allen, Diggs and cornerback Tre’Davious White — signed through at least the 2025 season.
Beane took care of a need at pass-rusher by signing Von Miller, a player whom Diggs began recruiting midway through last season, to a deal with $51 million fully guaranteed. They Bills have spent the offseason improving a roster that has almost no holes, and they still have eight picks in the 2022 NFL draft to come.
There’s no doubt what the Bills believe the ceiling is for this team.
“We got some more experience underneath our belt and moving forward that only can help you,” Diggs said. “You never lose, you only learn. That’s what they say. So, moving forward, I like us.”