Tortured relationship analogies aside, the Vikings' trade of Stefon Diggs to Buffalo — which happened in mid-March, at the outset of the pandemic, which sounds impossible in so many ways — was a deal that has worked out for the best for both teams and Diggs.
The Vikings received the draft pick that became the dynamic Justin Jefferson, a 1-for-1 wide receiver swap that doesn't usually work out so neatly. Diggs probably would have had a bigger impact than Jefferson on the 2020 Vikings (assuming he was healthy and happy, which are two big assumptions), but Jefferson looks like he will be a standout for years to come.
Diggs went to a team that wanted him, and he has put up huge numbers — 100 catches already — for a 10-3 team building a very good offense.
The circumstances of Diggs' departure from the Vikings have been covered before. He wasn't happy with an increasingly run-focused offense. Relationships became frayed. Eventually, his actions (missing practice) and words (social media musings) gave way to the trade.
There's not much to re-litigate since the swap was the rare one in which both sides benefited greatly, but a recent ESPN cover story on Diggs at least gives us an additional glimpse into what went wrong from his perspective. The key paragraph and quote:
In truth, though, Diggs' biggest problem wasn't the lack of touches; it was that he felt his conversations with Vikings officials were inauthentic. He didn't feel heard.
"I'm not gonna say [they were] peeing on me and telling me that it's raining," he says. "That's a little bit harsh." He considers his words. "But something like that. ... Once you don't have trust with a person, it's hard to do business."
Diggs seems to be getting everything he wants in Buffalo — at least for now. We'll see how long it lasts, and reserve the right to re-evaluate this trade again in a couple of years.
Here are four other things I'm thinking about:
* Sports in the last nine months, almost all of which have been spectator-free, have undoubtedly felt strange. It's been difficult, at least for me, to fully immerse myself in games — particularly college football and recently basketball, which have environments that seem so dependent on fans.
That said, if they are going to forge ahead with games ... the Gophers might as well go ahead and beat the Badgers on Saturday. It won't end the pandemic, but taking back the axe, ensuring another winning season and a trip to a bowl game — all while sticking Wisconsin with a losing season — would be a lot better than the alternative.
Gophers beat writer Megan Ryan and I discussed a lot of this and more on a video show Friday.
*Speaking of Justin Jefferson, the rookie Vikings WR seemed to be creeping into the Offensive Rookie of the Year discussion with his strong play and a little slide from Chargers QB Justin Herbert.
But Herbert led the Chargers to an overtime win with a late touchdown drive, which he capped with a QB sneak (after fumbling the previous attempt) for a 30-27 win over the Raiders on Thursday. He finished 22 of 32 for 314 yards and two touchdowns. It's going to be hard to top his rookie season.
Herbert's winning TD, by the way, came after Daniel Carlson had put the Raiders in front with an overtime field goal. Yes, this week of Vikings kicking drama would not have been complete without Carlson — whom they cut as a rookie in 2018 after a disastrous game in Green Bay — continuing to perform well in the clutch.
*If you're a Vikings fan, your best realistic hope for Minnesota reaching the postseason goes as follows: The Vikings beat the Bears on Sunday — pretty much a must-have game — while losing to the Saints in two weeks and defeating the Lions in the finale. Meanwhile, the Cardinals lose Sunday to the Eagles, defeat the 49ers in two weeks and lose to the Rams in the finale.
Why so specific with the two Cardinals losses? If the loss comes to San Francisco, that gives the 49ers (currently 5-8) a path to 8-8, where they would edge the Vikings and Cardinals in a three-way tiebreaker (and edge the Vikings in a two-team tiebreaker). If San Francisco loses this weekend at Dallas, the Vikings would root for the 49ers to beat Arizona instead.
If I've only served to confuse you more, I apologize. Bottom line: The Vikings (currently 6-7) beating the Bears and Lions and finishing with the same record as the Cardinals (currently 7-6) gets Minnesota in the playoffs, as long as the 49ers aren't also part of that tie.
*If you're going to say "it's only the preseason" when the Wolves lose, you have to do the same when they manage to win. Still, a 129-127 overtime win at Dallas was a much more palatable way to conclude the preseason after two ragged losses to Memphis.
Of particular note: Second-year wing Jarrett Culver had 18 points, made 2 of 3 from three-point range and finished as a plus-25 in 27 minutes.
Nights like that in the regular season would change my outlook on Culver and the Wolves as a whole.