Stefon Diggs

NFL Rumors: Why Patriots passed on Stefon Diggs before trade to Bills

NFL Rumors: Why Patriots passed on Stefon Diggs before trade to Bills

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?

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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.

NFL Rumors: Patriots to sign free-agent wide receiver Damiere Byrd

NFL Rumors: Patriots to sign free-agent wide receiver Damiere Byrd

In a week where star receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs were moved in somewhat stunning trades, the Patriots reportedly have made a receiver move of their own.

And on a day their face of the franchise departed, it's slightly underwhelming.

Click here for complete Tom Brady coverage and download the MyTeams App for the latest news and analysis.

The Patriots are signing free-agent wide receiver Damiere Byrd, Doug Kyed of NESN reports. 

The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Byrd, 27, is coming off his best season in the NFL with 32 catches on 46 targets for 359 yards for the Arizona Cardinals last season after three injury-filled seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Panthers out of South Carolina in 2016.

Byrd appeared in 11 games for Arizona last season and missed some time with a hamstring injury. 

For Phil Perry's look at the Patriots receiver situation heading into free agency, click here.

NFL Rumors: Patriots, Vikings talked Stefon Diggs trade before Bills landed WR

NFL Rumors: Patriots, Vikings talked Stefon Diggs trade before Bills landed WR

Another wide receiver has come and gone from the New England Patriots' radar.

The Buffalo Bills reportedly acquired Stefon Diggs from the Vikings in a blockbuster trade Monday, sending four draft picks (including a 2020 first-rounder) to Minnesota for the talented wide receiver.

Apparently that price was too rich for New England's blood.

The Patriots discussed a potential Diggs trade with the Vikings before they dealt him to Buffalo, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported Tuesday, adding the Washington Redskins had interest in Diggs, as well.

Breer also reported Monday night the Patriots were involved in trade talks for DeAndre Hopkins before the Houston Texans dealt the All-Pro receiver to the Arizona Cardinals.

It's clear New England needs receiving help after finishing the 2019 season with no reliable pass-catchers outside Julian Edelman. Head coach Bill Belichick reportedly is targeting some elite options, too, but seemingly wasn't willing to pay a premium for Diggs or Hopkins, as NFL Media's Mike Giardi suggested Tuesday.

As our Phil Perry reported Tuesday morning, the Cleveland Browns are unlikely to trade top wideout Odell Beckham Jr. So, if the Patriots still want to upgrade at receiver, their best bets might be (what's left of) the free-agent pool or the 2020 NFL Draft, where they have 12 selections.

As for Diggs -- who put up 1,130 receiving yards on 63 catches last season but reportedly didn't get along with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins -- he'll be out to show New England what it missed when the Bills play their AFC East rivals in 2020.