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Is First-Team All-Pro Stefon Diggs Underpaid?

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Last March, Brandon Beane turned his nose up at one of the deepest wide receiver drafts in recent memory and instead sent his first-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for Stefon Diggs. This decision turned out to be one of the best so far in Beane’s Buffalo tenure. Diggs made an immediate impact on the field and helped catapult Josh Allen from the “can you fix accuracy?” discussion to the MVP discussion in only one season.

Diggs experienced not only a career year but a franchise year for the Bills. He shattered the Bills’ franchise record for receptions in a season and receiving yards in a season. Diggs finished with 127 receptions for 1,535 yards. Prior to last year, Eric Moulds had held the top spot in both categories (100 receptions in 2002 and 1,368 receiving yards in 1998). Diggs was named to the Pro Bowl and earned First-Team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. Everyone can agree that Stefon Diggs is a top-five NFL receiver. Going further, it would not be hard to make the case that Diggs is the single best wide receiver in the game right now. Naturally, there comes a price tag with a title like that. So, what is that current price tag? Is Stefon Diggs underpaid? Overpaid? Let’s take a look at his current contract.

Current Deal: Five Years, $72 million

Stefon Diggs is currently in the third year of a five-year, $72 million extension signed in 2019 with the Vikings. Just one year into the extension, Diggs was traded to Buffalo. In 2021, he will carry a cap hit of $14.3 million, which is the highest cap hit on the team. Looking at the rest of the league here is how his contract compares:

Cap Hit: $14.3 million is 12th in the NFL among WRs

Here are the receivers who have a higher cap hit than Diggs: Jarvis Landry, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyreek Hill, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Devante Adams, Allen Robinson, Amari Cooper, and Julio Jones.

Are those 11 receivers all better than Diggs? Absolutely not. From a cap hit standpoint, the Bills are getting a steal.

Base Salary: $12.7 million is 8th in the NFL among WRs

Base Salary is the amount that Diggs is due before his signing bonus is prorated across the deal, as well as any other bonuses. Many of the receivers from the list above are also above him in this category as well. His $12.7 million base salary tops the Bills by a large amount. Dion Dawkins is second on the team with $7.3 million in base salary. Prior to his restructure, Tre’Davious White had the highest base salary on the team for the 2021 season.

Average Cap Percentage: 7.89% is 19th in the NFL among WRs

Given the increase in salary cap every year (sans 2021), a better indication of how much the team has committed to a player is the Average Cap Percentage (ACP). This indicates what percentage of the cap the specific player takes up on their team for a given year. Diggs accounts for just 7.89% of Buffalo’s cap this year. There are too many WRs in front of him to name, but some of the noteworthy ones are: DeAndre Hopkins (first at 14.93%), Michael Thomas (fifth at 10.55%), and Tyreek Hill (tied-sixth at 9.86%). Once again, Diggs provides a far greater value to the team than his ACP dictates.

The original question I posed to start the article asked if Stefon Diggs was underpaid. I believe it is abundantly clear that he is. Diggs will have to wait for his payday, though. The Bills are cash strapped this year and Brandon Beane has already had to work some serious magic to get the Bills under the cap while retaining nearly every impact player on the roster. Josh Allen’s contract will take the front stage after the NFL Draft. For this reason, I would not expect a new deal for Diggs in the near future.

If Stefon Diggs can repeat his All-Pro season from last year, he will make it that much harder for the Bills to retain him. You can bet the Bills are aware of Diggs’ true value and will do all they can to win a championship while their All-Pro receiver is on a team-friendly deal.

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