Stefon Diggs is a young, talented wide receiver entering his prime. The New England Patriots desperately need help at receiver.
So, why didn't the Patriots pull the trigger on the 26-year-old wideout before the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills scooped him up?
New England had discussions with the Minnesota Vikings regarding Diggs, according to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer. But two developments last Monday -- the first day of the league's legal tampering period -- convinced them not to pursue Diggs further, Breer wrote in a column Monday morning.
The Patriots were one suitor, but events of the day caused their interest to cool. Franchising Joe Thuney put cap space at a premium for New England. And as (Tom) Brady’s departure started to look more likely, trading for a veteran receiver made less sense.
New England placed a $14.8 million franchise tag on Thuney, making the left guard the team's highest-paid player after he signed his tender Tuesday. That signing brought the Patriots down to roughly $7 million in cap space, and Diggs will carry an $11.5 million cap hit in 2020.
That second development is more interesting, though: Per Breer, the Patriots' sense that Brady may leave in free agency (a decision he announced the following day) convinced them not to pay up for a wideout like Diggs.
New England reportedly had interest in DeAndre Hopkins, as well, and probably would have pursued both star wideouts more aggressively if that meant convincing Brady to stay.
So, are the Patriots less willing to spend big at wide receiver in 2020 with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer leading the way (for now)? Time will tell, but in this instance, it appears Bill Belichick prioritized offensive line over wide receiver.