The quarterback then placed the onus on himself to do better in what will be an ongoing attempt to get Diggs back in the fold — and the sooner the better for the Bills.
“This does not work what we’re doing here without him,” Allen said following practice.
“I’ve got his back no matter what and I’ve got no doubt that we will figure out what’s going on. I love him. I can’t stress that enough,” he added, emphasizing his love for Diggs by using a profanity. “I think that there are some things that could have gone better last year and didn’t. I think as an organization, maybe not communicating the right way with everything.”
“He’s a fiery competitor. At the end of the day, he wants to win, this team wants to win, and make no mistake, he’s a Buffalo Bill. We’re going to work this out,” Allen said. “He doesn’t want this to be a distraction.”
Distraction or not, Diggs’ offseason long absence — he also skipped the team’s voluntary spring workouts and practices — raises more questions than answers. The dispute also exposing a break in what had previously been the Bills tightly knit culture and the close friendship the receiver had built with Allen over their previous three seasons.
The disconnect went even further before practice began when coach Sean McDermott said he was “very concerned” in announcing Diggs would not be participating. What McDermott left out, and later clarified by the team, was Diggs being at the Bills facility on Monday and Tuesday morning before saying he left before practice began.
Diggs’ agent Adisa Bakari, in a message sent to The Associated Press, disputed the timing of Diggs’ departure by saying that’s “not completely accurate,” by suggesting his client was still at the team facility when practice began.
Bakari said Diggs spent the past two days meeting with McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane, and “will be there for the entirety of camp.”
The development comes as a surprise after Beane said last week he expected all 90 players — including Diggs — to be in attendance this week.
Diggs is entering his fourth season in Buffalo, and last summer was rewarded with a four-year, $96 million contract that kicks in this season. The two sides agreed to restructure the contract this spring in allowing the Bills to free up salary cap space.
The way the contract was restructured would make it very difficult for the Bills to trade or cut Diggs because of how it would affect their payroll.
Since being acquired in a trade with Minnesota in March 2020, the 29-year-old has been one of the NFL’s most productive receivers by combining for 365 catches for 4,189 yards and 29 touchdowns — one fewer than he had in Minnesota — in his three seasons in Buffalo.
When Allen was asked to elaborate about Diggs’ absence not being related to football, he said this:
“I mean I think it has more to do than just football, is what I’m basically saying,” Allen said. “I think there’s the football piece, one, and then stuff that happens due to football. And I’ll just kind of keep it at that.”
Diggs broke his silence with an Instagram story on Tuesday night that read “I just be letting people cap. If them lies help you sleep better big dog.”
Just last offseason, Diggs agreed to a four-year, $104 million extension that includes $70 million guaranteed. The extension tied Diggs to Buffalo for six years at $124.1 million. This March, the Bills restructured Diggs’ contract, converting base salary into a bonus to create $5.4 million in cap space for Buffalo.
This is certainly a curious situation especially with McDermott’s comments about him being concerned. We have no evidence to claim Diggs wants out of Buffalo, but as NFL Media points out, trading Diggs isn’t feasible due to the amount of dead cap space that would come from it. Diggs is reportedly making $24.415 million in 2023, including a $22.745 million signing bonus that was part of the restructure.
Allen said that it is related to “teamwork” and has to do with more than just football, but he placed some responsibility on himself, saying, “There’s things that I could do better to help out with this process and try to get him back here and be the Buffalo Bill that he’s meant to be.”
“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.”
The unconventional day started with coach Sean McDermott saying before practice that Diggs was not present and that he was “very concerned, very concerned” about the absence. Allen described the response as “a typical reaction from a head coach. Obviously, he wants everybody here.”
The Bills and Diggs’ agent, Adisa Bakari, who spoke with ESPN’s Adam Schefter, said that Diggs was in the building Monday and was present Tuesday morning. Bakari said that Diggs took his physical, met with McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane over the past two days, and “will be there for the entirety of the minicamp.”
Per the Bills, Diggs left the facility before Tuesday’s practice. He was not present for any portion of the team’s practice on the outdoor field at the facility. The team is also scheduled to practice Wednesday and Thursday. The wide receiver was not present for any of the team’s voluntary OTAs.
“When players miss, in particular a player of Stef’s caliber, you’d love to have those players here,” McDermott said. “So, overall been pleased with the attendance and the guys’ effort.”
McDermott is not scheduled to speak to the media again before training camp.
Diggs signed a four-year, $96 million extension last offseason, and trading him would incur a significant dead cap hit, including $13.2 million this year. 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. At times this offseason, Diggs’ tweets have gotten attention for being cryptic about his time with the team; however, that is not uncommon.
Reigning rushing champion Josh Jacobs, former No. 2 pick Saquon Barkley and 2022 Pro Bowler Tony Pollard were all franchise tagged by their respective teams and have yet to receive long-term contracts. Three other former Pro Bowlers – Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette – were cut by their teams and remain unsigned despite being under 30.
Here’s a full breakdown of the highest paid running backs in the NFL, plus a full update on Barkley’s situation with the New York Giants:
A rookie running back will actually receive the most cash of any player at the position in 2023. The Atlanta Falcons drafted Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall in April, immediately making him the highest-paid running back for this season at $13,719,844. The Texas product doesn’t have the biggest running back contract – and he won’t hold this title after his rookie season – but for now the crown is his.
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