Vikings’ Kirk Cousins Breaks Silence on Stefon Diggs’ Departure

Stefon Diggs

Getty Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins addressed Stefon Diggs' departure from Minnesota ahead of a Week 10 matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

One tweet signaled the end of the Stefon Diggs era in Minnesota — and its timing put Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ influence into question.

Just hours after Cousins signed a two-year, $66 million contract extension in the 2020 offseason, Diggs sent a signal on social media: “It’s time for a new beginning,” the former Vikings star tweeted that afternoon.

By night, Diggs had his new beginning.

He was traded to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for four draft picks, including a first-rounder the Vikings used to select Justin Jefferson 22nd overall.

Diggs’ departure from the Vikings was one of the NFL’s biggest stories after he led the league in receiving yards the following season and helped Buffalo reach its first conference championship in nearly three decades.

Meanwhile, Minnesota was at a crossroads with Cousins’ contract extension sparking a mass exodus of the team’s veteran talent. Seven starters, including Diggs, were traded or released that offseason to help create enough cap space to resign the veteran quarterback.

The proximity to Cousins’ extension at the time of the trade led to speculation that Cousins was to blame for Diggs’ discontent and call for a new beginning.

Over two years later, Cousins addressed his relationship with the Minneapolis Miracle star.

Stefon Diggs Warned Kirk Cousins of Leaving Vikings Months Before Trade to Bills

In a November 9 press conference, Cousins was asked whether he took Diggs leaving personally, revealing Diggs had warned Cousins during the season after the star receiver sat out a week of practice in 2019.

“He made that pretty clear from the start, ‘This has nothing to do with you,’ and we talked about it,” Cousins said. “In pro sports, there’s a level of players needing to protect themselves and look out for themselves and their careers. I understand that, and everybody in this locker room understands that.”

Diggs’ departure came during Mike Zimmer’s power grab of the team’s offense. The surly head coach had gone through four offensive coordinators, which included a midseason ousting of Norv Turner, since Diggs was drafted in 2015. Zimmer wanted to Vikings to stick to a run-heavy scheme, and Diggs saw the team’s best chances of winning was a more modern, pass-happy approach.

It adds up that Diggs had already made up his mind, with his grievances being with the dead-end offense under Zimmer and not his quarterback.

Diggs shouted out Cousins and several teammates in his farewell essay to Minnesota but did not mention Zimmer in the piece.

“The texts started coming in, and I remembered what I was leaving,” Diggs wrote in April 2020. “Kirk was one of the first guys to text me. He was super appreciative of the time we spent together over the last couple of years, and he was just as encouraging, wishing me the best of luck in Buffalo. And it’s like … what do I even say about Kirk? This is a man who has invited me into his home. Introduced me to his family. Put in the extra hours with us. He’s a guy who, through all the ups and downs over the last couple of years, I’ve developed a tremendous amount of appreciation and respect for. I’m definitely going to miss playing with and learning from him.”

Kirk Cousins Says Justin Jefferson Made the Stefon Diggs Trade a Win-Win

The Diggs trade was a rare win-win for both organizations as the Bills have become a perennial Super Bowl contender with Diggs helping to elevate a young superstar quarterback in Josh Allen.

Minnesota got a budding superstar in Jefferson and is enjoying a 7-1 start to the season, its best since 2009, with first-year coach Kevin O’Connell leading the revamp of the Vikings offense.

“I think [the trade] worked out for everybody involved. Stefon just wanted a different opportunity. It was tough to lose him,” Cousins said, adding that Jefferson’s rise his rookie year helped the offense move forward. “Being able to get Justin made it sting a little less with the way Justin has played.

“I’m happy for [Diggs], he’s been able to find a great spot for him,” Cousins added.

Read More