Eagles

NFL trade rumors: Why Stefon Diggs makes sense for the Eagles

NFL trade rumors: Why Stefon Diggs makes sense for the Eagles

On Tuesday night, receiver Stefon Diggs sent the internet into a tizzy when he apparently erased any mention of the Vikings from his Instagram account. 

We’re taking a bit of a leap here (gotta love 2020) but if this is Diggs’ somehow voicing his frustration with the Vikings it wouldn’t be the first time. And it would also basically be a Bat Signal to the other 31 NFL teams: “Come and get me!” 

The Eagles should. 

It’s funny. Before all those rumors began to swirl on Tuesday night, I was on NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Quick Slants and was asked for one potential trade target for the Birds. The name I gave was Diggs. He made sense even before this. While there’s no guarantee the Vikings trade him, it’s worth finding out. 

If you haven’t noticed, the Eagles are in desperate need of help at receiver. It’s why about 85 percent of mock drafts have them taking one in the first round of the draft in a couple months. But any player they pick in the draft is an unknown. Diggs is not. 

There are three big reasons why Diggs should be attractive to the Eagles: 

1. He just turned 26 back in November

The Eagles are committed to getting younger this offseason and getting Diggs now would kind of be like signing a free agent after his rookie deal. The Eagles have been getting older but Diggs would help them get younger. No, he’s not a 21-year-old anymore but he is arguably entering his prime. 

2. Diggs is already one of the best receivers in the NFL

Despite his targets dropping from 149 in 2018 to 94 in 2019 (ostensibly one of the reasons for his displeasure), Diggs still managed to have more receiving yards this past season. Since the 2016 season, Diggs has 313 catches, 3,903 yards and 26 touchdowns. There are just six players in the league with better stats in those four seasons: DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Travis Kelce and Michael Thomas. 

What has been impressive about Diggs is that he’s been successful in different ways. After averaging 10.0 yards per catch in 2018, he averaged 17.9 (a career high) in 2019 and was a tremendous deep threat. Just three players in the NFL had a higher yards-per-catch average in 2019. 

The Eagles certainly saw what he can do. In Week 6 against the Birds, he had his best game of the 2019 season. He caught seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. That was the only time this season he was targeted over 10 times in a game. 

3. Diggs is relatively cost-controlled for another four seasons

While trading for Diggs will cost draft equity (we’ll get to that soon), his salary will be cheaper than that of a free agent of the same caliber because he’s already locked up. While multiple teams will out-bid each other for free agents and end up over-paying, Diggs has a contract that runs through the 2023 season and it’s a very reasonable contract. By the end of it, there’s a very good chance he’ll be extremely underpaid. Even though he just signed the five-year extension in the summer of 2018, he’s already just the 13th highest-paid NFL receiver in terms of APY, according to OverTheCap. 

Check out his base salaries for the remainder of the contract: 

2020: $10.9M
2021: $11.4M
2022: $11.4M
2023: $11.4M

No, that’s not exactly cheap like a rookie contract would be but it’s very manageable. And once the new CBA is eventually worked out, those prices will probably look even better. And there are some performance escalators written in, but if Diggs hits them, both sides would be happy. 

So what will it take? 

This is the big question. I think we all agree that Diggs is a good player and the Eagles would love to have him. But what would they have to give up in a trade? 

Well, the Vikings are going to start any negotiation with a first-round pick at minimum. They should. All those reasons I listed above are reasons why they should have teams lining up for Diggs. It’ll be interesting to see just how bad things really are between Diggs and the Vikings, though. There was definitely frustration during the 2019 season but he finished out the year. Is it bad enough that it’s an untenable situation? If so, then the Vikings would lose some leverage. 

If it’s a second-round pick, this is an easier conversation. The real question is whether or not the Eagles would be willing to give up a first-round pick. I kind of doubt they’d be willing to but you can make a real case for it. It’s easy to say the Eagles should just focus on the draft and take one of the many talented options with the 21st pick but there’s no guarantee they’ll hit. In fact, their history picking receivers, especially in the last decade, shouldn’t instill much confidence. They have drafted four Day 1 or Day 2 receivers since 2010: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. 

None of them ever became what Diggs is right now. And there’s a good chance any player taken at 21 won’t become what he is either. 

Maybe GM Howie Roseman and the Eagles will be worried about Diggs’ fit in the building; after all, he has created enough drama in Minnesota to bring all of this up in the first place. Would that eventually happen here? Hard to say. This isn’t a no-brainer but it’s worth a call or two. 

Pick up the phone, Howie. 

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NFL officially expands playoff format in time for 2020 playoffs

NFL officially expands playoff format in time for 2020 playoffs

The NFL has officially expanded its playoff format to 14 teams in time for the 2020 season. 

Starting with this upcoming season, the playoff field will expand from 12 to 14 teams, allowing one more wild-card team from each conference. 

Here are a few of the major points of this new format: 

• The AFC and NFC will each have seven playoff teams, but just the top seed from each conference will have a first-round bye in the playoffs. 

• In wild-card weekend, the other 12 teams will play — the No. 2 seeds will host 7s, the No. 3 seeds will host 6s and the No. 4 seeds will host 5s. 

• For this upcoming season, wild-card weekend will have three games on Saturday, Jan. 9 and three games on Sunday, Jan. 10. 

• One of the additional wild-card games will be on CBS on Jan. 10 at 4:40 p.m. The other will be on NBC on Jan. 10 at 8:15 p.m.

This is the NFL’s first expansion of the playoff format since the 1990 season, when the field went from 10 to 12. 

The Eagles made the playoffs as a division winner with a 9-7 record in 2019 and that would still be an option with this new format. This change simply adds another playoff team in each conference. In the 2019 NFC that would have been the 9-7 Rams. 

If you’re looking for a recent example in Eagles history of how this new format would’ve helped, look back at the 2014 season. The Eagles finished with a 10-6 record in Chip Kelly’s second season but missed the postseason. If this format was around, they would have been the third wild-card team after the 11-win Lions and Cardinals. 

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Jalen Mills changes number to recreate himself like Kobe and LeBron

Jalen Mills changes number to recreate himself like Kobe and LeBron

Entering his fifth year in the NFL, Jalen Mills won’t just have a new position. 

He’s going to have a new number too. 

In his first four seasons in the NFL, Mills wore No. 31. But recent signing Nickell Robey-Coleman is going to take over that number and Mills is going to jump to No. 21 after Ronald Darby left for Washington as a free agent. 

Mills explained the jersey number change on a conference call Tuesday: 

I think the number change is just a new beginning. One of the guys that always motivated me was a Kobe Bryant or a LeBron James. You see Kobe went from 8 to 24, you know, LeBron went from 6 to 23 (LeBron actually went from 23 to 6 to 23). It’s just recreating myself. Recreating that Green Goblin, that monster. It’s a new position, it’s a new feel, and it’s going to be new energy.

Mills, 25, signed a one-year, $4 million deal to return to the Eagles this offseason. He said there were some other teams interested in him, but he feels like there’s “unfinished business” in Philly and thinks the Eagles have a shot at returning to the Super Bowl. 

While no other teams wanted Mills to play safety, the Eagles will have him play a hybrid defensive back position to help replace Malcolm Jenkins, whom they let walk. Those are big shoes to fill, but Mills seems confident — doesn’t he always? — that he’ll be able to get the job done.

If he does, he’ll be wearing the No. 21, which has been a strong number in Eagles history. It was once worn by Eric Allen for seven seasons and Bobby Taylor for nine. 

In recent years, Darby took over the 21 in 2018 after Patrick Robinson left in free agency to re-join the Saints. 

Here’s a list of every Eagles player to ever wear No. 21 in a game: 

James Zyntell, Les Maynard, Paul Cuba, John Kusko, Herschel Stockton, Allison White, Chuck Cherundolo, William Boedeker, Al Pollard, Jim Carr, Joe Scarpati, Ray Jones, Jackie Allen, Wes Chesson, Al Clark, John Sciarra, Evan Cooper, Eric Allen, Bobby Taylor, Matt Ware, William James, Joselio Hanson, David Sims, Roc Carmichael, Jerome Couplin, Leodis McKelvin, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby

Mills will add his name to that list soon enough. 

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