ORCHARD PARK, NY – Buffalo Bills Coach Sean McDermott said he sympathizes with the situation Stephen Diggs is “cleared” and clarifies that he excused Diggs from mandatory mini-camp practice on Tuesday.
The wide receiver was present at the mandatory minicamp on Wednesday and took part in individual practice. He did not take part in team exercises. Training was largely normal for Diggs, aside from not participating in team practices. He made his normal handshake with Allen and talked to him Gabe Davissome of the younger recipients, like Jalen Wayne, and new wide receiver coach Adam Henry. He intercepted several passes Josh Allen.
McDermott’s clarification in a post-training press conference, which was not scheduled, comes a day after he said he was “very concerned, very concerned” that Diggs was absent from Tuesday’s practice. The manager said on Wednesday that a player is always concerned if he is absent from training for any reason.
“That’s my opinion of any player, especially a player who’s as important to us as Stef,” McDermott said. “And that’s why I worry when players are missing for reasons off the field, for reasons on the field. Be it that they are hurt or whatever. I’m very concerned about the situation with one of our players and that was something we had to work through and those are healthy conversations that are going on and I’m very grateful for those conversations. It gets us when you have these healthy conversations. Conversations take you to a better place. And I feel good about it. I feel like we’re at that point.”
McDermott said Diggs did everything the team asked, reporting to team facility Monday for a physical and then returning to briefings Tuesday. A meeting was held on Tuesday with “a good conversation, great communication” which led to the decision that some space was needed.
“We got to a point yesterday where I just felt like we all needed a break and some space,” said McDermott. “And so I gave Stef permission to get some space and go outside, and then resumed those conversations after practice.”
McDermott said he is keeping the content of the call and the people involved internal. Diggs did not comment to the media on Wednesday. The coach said he was confident the issue would not become a distraction going forward. Diggs did not address the media on Wednesday and has not had a press conference since the end of the regular season.
Allen said that he spoke to Diggs on Tuesday and that “I’m sure we’ll have some more conversations going forward and as an organization, as a QB receiver, as an offensive coordinator, everything that comes with it.”
“I know internally we are working on some non-football related things, but Stef, he’s my guy. Excuse me… I fucking love him. He’s a brother of mine,” Allen said Tuesday. “What we’re doing here won’t work without him. We wish he were here and on the field with us today and he’s not, but I’m definitely there for him. And.” Again, I have no doubts that we’re going to find out what’s going on, and I fucking love him. I can’t stress this enough. There are things I could do better and help with that process and try to bring him back here and be the Buffalo Bill he’s meant to be.”
Both Allen and pass rusher By Miller on Tuesday expressed their love and support for Diggs, who has been named team captain for the past two seasons, and minimized his absence, in part because it’s still early on the NFL calendar. The Bills canceled Thursday’s last minicamp practice, like the team did the year before.
Diggs signed a four-year, $96 million contract extension last season, and a trade with him would see a substantial dead-cap hit: $31.1 million in dead money would be expected if he traded would. His deal included a $70 million guarantee, the third-largest ever for a wide receiver. When the contract was signed in April 2022, Diggs, 29, and Buffalo had their sights set on his retirement from the Bills.
After the team’s postseason loss to the Bengals in January, which saw the Buffalo offense record its worst performance of the year, Diggs was visibly upset that Allen was on the sidelines and left the team before speaking to the media .
Diggs’ production declined in the second half of the 2022 season. He started the year at pace for his statistically best career season with 72 receptions on 98 goals for 985 yards and seven touchdowns in his first nine games. In the next nine games, including the postseason, Diggs caught 47 receptions on 74 goals and four touchdowns.
“Listen, getting Stef the ball is an important part of our offense, isn’t it? That’s not the case, there’s no reason to say that,” McDermott said when asked if they felt Diggs didn’t get enough of the ball over the course of the season. “I mean he’s the big focal point of our offense alongside Josh and it’s important to get him going and the more power he has the more power we have offensively. This usually works hand in hand. So and me.” I’ve said it before: he brings great energy to our football team as a whole, not only on offense but also on defense and special teams. And that’s a big deal.”