Alaina Getzenberg, ESPNJun 14, 2023, 12:56 PM ET
- Alaina Getzenberg is a staff writer who covers the Buffalo Bills and the NFL. She joined ESPN in 2021. Alaina was previously a beat reporter for the Charlotte Observer and has also worked for CBS Sports and the Dallas Morning News. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. You can follow her via Twitter @agetzenberg.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott said that he feels the situation with Stefon Diggs is “resolved” and clarified that he excused Diggs from Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp practice.
The wide receiver was present and participated in individual drills during Wednesday’s mandatory minicamp. He did not participate in team drills.
McDermott’s clarification comes a day after he said that he was “very concerned, very concerned” about Diggs not being present for Tuesday’s practice. The coach said on Wednesday that whenever a player is not at a practice for whatever reason he is concerned.
“That’s my sentiment with any player, in particular a player as important to us as Stef,” McDermott said. “And so, I get concerned when players miss for reasons off the field, for reasons on the field. Whether it be they’re injured or whatever it is. That’s just how I am. So, when I say very concerned, I’m very concerned, because of the situation with one of our players, and it was something that we needed to work through and those are healthy conversations that happen and I’m extremely appreciative of those conversations. It gets us, when you have those healthy conversations, it gets you to a better spot. And I feel good about that. I feel like we’re in that spot.”
McDermott said that Diggs did everything the team asked for by reporting to the team’s facility on Monday and took his physical, and then reported again Tuesday for meetings. On Tuesday, a meeting took place with “a good conversation, great communication,” that led to the decision that some space was needed.
“We got to a point yesterday where I just, we just, felt like we all needed a break and some space,” McDermott said. “And so, I gave Stef permission to get some space and head out and then picked up those conversations after practice.”
McDermott said that he was keeping the content of the conversation and the people involved internal. Diggs did not address media on Wednesday.
Quarterback Josh Allen said he did speak with Diggs on Tuesday and that “I’m sure we’re going to have some more conversations moving forward and as an organization, as QB-receiver, as an offensive coordinator, everything that goes in.”
“I know internally we’re working on some things, not football related, but Stef, he’s my guy. Excuse my … I f—ing love him. He’s a brother of mine,” Allen said Tuesday. “This does not work, what we’re doing here, without him. We wish he was in here today and was out there on the field with us and that’s not the case, but I’ve got his back no matter what. And again, I’ve got no doubts that we will figure out what’s going on and freaking love him. I can’t stress that enough. There’s things that I could do better and to help out with this process and try to get him back here and be the Buffalo Bill that he’s meant to be.”
Both Allen and pass-rusher Von Miller expressed their love and support for Diggs on Tuesday and minimized his absence, in part due it being early in the NFL calendar.
Diggs signed a four-year, $96 million extension last offseason, and trading him would incur a significant dead cap hit with $31.1 million in dead money set to hit if he was traded. His deal included $70 million guaranteed, the third-most all time for a wide receiver. Diggs, 29, and Buffalo had their sights set on him retiring with the Bills when the contract was signed in April 2022.
After the team’s postseason loss to the Bengals in January that featured the Buffalo offense’s lowest output of the year, Diggs was noticeably upset with Allen on the sideline and left before talking to the media.
Diggs’ production declined in the second half of the 2022 season. He started the year on pace for his best career season statistically with 72 receptions on 98 targets for 985 yards and seven touchdowns in the first nine games. In the nine games that followed, including the postseason, Diggs caught 47 receptions on 74 targets and four touchdowns.
“I think we’re just, as an organization, maybe not communicating the right way with everything,” Allen said. “So again, just trying to talk and listen at the same time and hear him out. And like I said, just try to move this forward as quickly and as respectfully as possible.”