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Stefon Diggs trade: Winners and losers after Texans acquire Pro Bowl wide receiver from Bills

Stefon Diggs is heading to the Houston Texans, bringing his tenure with the Buffalo Bills to a close after four seasons. In that span, Diggs led the NFL with 445 receptions and finished in the top four in receiving yards (5,372) and receiving touchdowns (37), making four Pro Bowls in the process.

No player has been more important to Josh Allen in the last four seasons than Diggs. Now that he's off to play with C.J. Stroud in Houston, it's time to examine who benefitted from Wednesday's stunning trade, and who is ending up empty-handed.

WINNER: C.J. Stroud, Texans quarterback. Yes, this is an obvious choice, but quarterback is the first position everyone thinks of when a trade of this magnitude occurs -- just as they did when Diggs moved from Minneapolis to Buffalo in 2020. Stroud's Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign left us craving more footage of his majestic, laser-guided passes, and the arrival of Diggs should only make those visions even more spectacular. Houston shocked the football world with its turnaround last season, powered by an offense that finished 12th in total yards per game and 13th in points per game, and that was made possible by Stroud's instant impact. Adding Diggs to the mix means there will be even greater expectations for the entire operation. They won't be able to stock Diggs' jersey fast enough in Houston.

LOSER: Josh Allen, Bills quarterback. Allen loses his favorite target, a consistently productive wideout who finished with 100-plus receptions and eight-plus receiving touchdowns in each of his four seasons in Buffalo. Diggs also truly allowed Allen to show off the full capabilities of his rocket arm: Since 2020, Diggs has more downfield receiving touchdowns (30) than any other receiver in the NFL. Allen will now need to turn elsewhere to make similarly awesome plays. He can try with new addition Curtis Samuel, and there's always the chance that the Bills will trade for another veteran receiver or draft a promising rookie. General manager Brandon Beane did promise on Wednesday that Buffalo will "have a team that's ready to challenge" by the time games begin. But we can only go off what the roster looks like today, and without Diggs (and Gabe Davis, who left for Jacksonville in free agency), deep strikes are going to be more difficult to pull off.

WINNER: Internet rumor mongers. Diggs has driven his own subsection of the internet with his antics in recent seasons. One early episode was positive: After the Bills lost the 2020 AFC title game, Diggs remained on the field at Arrowhead Stadium to watch the Chiefs celebrate. But as time dragged on, Diggs began to show more signs of frustration. He demonstrated agitation during and after Buffalo's loss to Cincinnati in the 2022 playoffs. He had a spat with Bills leadership that caused him to miss part of mandatory minicamp last summer, forcing Allen and coach Sean McDermott to answer for him. Though they all eventually promised their differences were behind them, the rumor mongers online continued to type furiously. Diggs is unhappy, they said. He wants to leave. It's never going to last in Buffalo. And ultimately, McDermott and Beane decided to get out of the Diggs experience Wednesday, pulling the plug on a partnership that was once incredibly promising, proved to be outrageously productive, but apparently wasn't worth the headlines -- or, with Diggs now at 30 years old, the money. What will the keyboard warriors now spend their time obsessing over? They'll find something, I'm sure.

LOSER: Curtis Samuel, Bills receiver. When Samuel joined Buffalo earlier this offseason, he looked like an ideal slot complement to Diggs, with Buffalo appearing to offer Samuel a better environment than he labored through over the last three seasons in Washington. But now, instead of taking a role in the system that would accentuate his strengths, Samuel finds himself as the top remaining option in Buffalo's passing attack. The next best receiver currently on the roster is Khalil Shakir, placing a ton of responsibility -- and attention from opposing defenses -- on Samuel's shoulders, barring the addition of another veteran or a promising rookie in the draft. This can't be what Samuel envisioned when he signed with Buffalo, but here he is.

WINNER: Bobby Slowik, Texans offensive coordinator. Slowik thrived in his first season as offensive coordinator in Houston, where he schemed up an offense that fit Stroud's strengths nearly perfectly, allowing the rookie to spread the ball among a receiving cast headlined by Nico Collins. Diggs brings elite talent to a WR corps that was already relatively deep, thanks in part to the rookie-season contributions of Tank Dell. This group is now loaded: Diggs, Collins, Dell, Noah Brown, veteran Robert Woods and youngster John Metchie III fill out the top six. Diggs and Collins were two of just seven players in the NFL with 80-plus receptions, 1,000-plus receiving yards and eight-plus receiving touchdowns in 2023, and now they're on the same team. Sure, some folks will ask the same question they once asked the Miami Heat back in 2010: How will they effectively spread one ball around enough to keep everyone happy? Well, Slowik and Stroud showed in 2023 that this won't be a problem. Instead, it will be a weekly nightmare for opposing defenses.

LOSERS: Bills fans. Buffalo backers have been through enough already, haven't they? Wide Right, 13 Seconds, recent postseason heartbreak and now this. Some might feel relieved after stressing over Diggs' apparent unhappiness in recent years -- and, again, there's the possibility that another move could bring a shiny new receiver, either through a trade or the draft. But for now, this sure does put a damper on the lead-up to the 2024 season. Unless something changes, Buffalo fans have to find a reason to get excited for an offense headlined by Samuel and Shakir at receiver, which takes away some of the sparkle that comes with calling a superstar quarterback (Josh Allen) your own. Bills fans won't sit down that easily, though: They're steeled by the brutal winters spent living in the snow belt off Lake Erie. One does not simply jump through a plastic table without knowing how to survive tough moments. Today will be one of those.

WINNER: Tank Dell, Texans receiver. Dell proved his talent in his abbreviated rookie season, establishing a rapport with Stroud -- he was the twitchy, slot-receiver best friend to the Offensive Rookie of the Year. With Diggs in the fold, Dell might not see quite as many targets as he did in 2023, but he'll get plenty of advantageous matchups, with defenses spending their time trying to blanket Diggs. I see fantasy gurus flocking to Dell in 2024, not because of volume, but because of big-play potential. Should he return fully healthy from his leg injury, Dell could be an incredible weapon most defenses don't see coming -- or can't afford to spend time anticipating.

LOSER: Joe Brady, Bills offensive coordinator. Brady earned the gig following the in-season dismissal of Ken Dorsey in 2023, and to his credit, he did solid work lifting the Bills out of the muck. Under Brady's direction, Buffalo began to run the ball effectively again, bringing much-needed balance to the offense, just in time for them to run the table to the playoffs. Unless the Bills find someone to fill Diggs' role in 2024, though, Brady's job is going to become much more difficult, especially when it comes to stretching defenses. The former wunderkind LSU coordinator will need to rely on Samuel and hope for more receiving help, either via a veteran or in the draft. Brady definitely isn't in Baton Rouge anymore.

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE: Sean McDermott, Bills head coach. McDermott would presumably suffer from this deal. After all, his team is losing its greatest pass-catching threat, a receiver who helped open up Buffalo's notoriously explosive offense. But McDermott also wins, because he no longer has to answer questions for Diggs when the receiver shows displeasure with the team's performance or trajectory. Sure, the Bills are saying goodbye to an incredibly talented receiver who has proven he's capable of changing a game, but they're also ridding themselves of the drama Diggs occasionally attracted. Is that trade-off worth it? On paper, no, but this is a pivotal year for the Bills, who have already trimmed veterans elsewhere on the roster. And more additions could be coming. At the very least, with a draft class loaded at receiver, they could replace Diggs with a younger, more affordable player with unrealized potential -- even if that doesn't necessarily fit their win-now timeline.

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