Zimmer went on The Rich Eisen Show and when asked about Diggs’ departure, he said the following:
“Diggs did not have to go. We really didn’t have any intention of trading him. Quite honestly, he put out a couple tweets, and there’s some things going on there.”
“Those other things” included a series of cryptic tweets from Diggs and team issues: missing practice last October and voicing his grievances with the offense. But Zimmer attested it was mostly Diggs’ drive and not his ego:
“Stefon works extremely hard, he practices like crazy he wants the ball like all receivers do… Really, if you said somebody was a pain in the butt you probably wouldn’t say him. I’ve been around way worse guys than him and I hope he has a great career and finishes up strong.”
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport backed up Zimmer’s claim, calling Diggs a model teammate:
“When he was no-showing at practice and causing us to scurry around and figure out what in the world was going on in Minnesota, yeah I would say that day he was a distraction,” Rapoport said. “He ended up getting fined for that. But the reality is those in the building… they were huge in getting Stefon Diggs focused, and really from what I can tell, he was pretty much a model teammate the rest of the year. They didn’t have any concerns about him going forward.”
The former Vikings star wide receiver and conductor of the Minneapolis Miracle led Minnesota last season in receptions (63), receiving yards (1,130), plays of 20 or more yards (20) and tied for first on the team with six TDs.
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Cryptic Tweets A Call For Offers?
Diggs’ cryptic tweets date back to the 2019 offseason which set off trade rumors since. The Bills had made several offers to the Vikings last October after Diggs missed practice, but the Vikings declined. Finally, one tweet Diggs made in March sparked trade talks.
it’s time for a new beginning.
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) March 16, 2020
The Bills sent an offer to the Vikings an hour after the tweet, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer detailed, spurring a series of calls between the two franchises and sealing the star wideouts fate.
Rapoport told NFL Now last Friday that Diggs’ social media was the smoke signal that it was a good time to offer:
“What actually triggered the trade, probably more so than him, as Zimmer colorfully described, being a little bit of a pain there — what triggered the trade more was Diggs kind of ambiguously tweeting earlier that day about potentially going somewhere.”
“What happens, as you know Mike, is when a player kind of brings up his own future and discusses maybe being traded, teams start calling and going, ‘Oh, could we trade for this guy?’ I know that the Buffalo Bills — I believe the Eagles were also a little bit kind of in the mix there — but the Bills were very serious about it, and it was more so them giving an offer the Vikings couldn’t refuse than the Vikings wanting to deal him.”
And with the Vikings over the salary cap, the trade quickly became about allocating draft picks, cutting costs and redeveloping a few positions on a team that has many pieces to contend already.
End Results: A Win-Win
The final offer the Bills brought to the table was one the Vikings couldn’t refuse.
The No. 22 overall pick (which was used to draft Diggs’ fill-in, Justin Jefferson), a fifth- and sixth-round picks used in the 2020 draft and a fourth-rounder in the 2021 draft in return for a 2020 seventh-rounder and Diggs.
What happened was Buffalo came in and gave us all those picks, and we were up against it with the salary cap, so we just felt like we could save some money, get a bunch of picks and maybe get a young receiver like [Justin Jefferson],” Zimmer told Eisen.
Buffalo needed a wide receiver and with two viable No. 1 receivers in Diggs and Theilen, Minnesota was willing to cut ties with Diggs’ contract and clear up cap space.
“In the end, the deal worked for both sides. Which is probably why a deal prompted by a tweet was possible to do in about six hours,” Breer wrote.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire