Fact or Fiction: Stefon Diggs Is Finished in Buffalo

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The Buffalo Bills blew a golden opportunity to finally beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the postseason. Tyler Bass’s kick went wide right to set up an AFC title game between Patrick Mahomes’s Chiefs and Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens.

Bass’s missed field-goal attempt might have spelled the end of Stefon Diggs’s stint in Buffalo. Josh Allen and Diggs struggled to get on the same page for most of the 2023 season.

The San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions will battle for the NFC championship in a matchup that will feature plenty of star power around quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Jared Goff. The Lions might have a case for having more offensive weapons than the 49ers after what they displayed in the divisional round victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Purdy and his star-studded cast struggled to defeat the Green Bay Packers, but the last pick in the 2022 draft delivered a game-winning drive. If Purdy doesn’t improve in the next round, many might begin to wonder whether he’ll have competition next season for the starting job.

As for Baker Mayfield, he did enough to possibly become the long-term starter in Tampa Bay, but he might have other suitors as a pending free agent.

We had plenty to examine for this week’s “Fact or Fiction,” including quarterback and head coaching jobs in 2024.

Diggs had his worst statistical season since arriving in Buffalo by just about any statistical measure.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Stefon Diggs played his final game with the Bills

Manzano’s view: Fact

Bass may get the bulk of the blame for the Bills’ heartbreaking loss to the Chiefs, but there were many missed opportunities between Allen and Diggs, who dropped a pass downfield in the fourth quarter. The Bills made the head-scratching decision to go away from the running game, as Allen increased his downfield throws late in the game. Buffalo rushed for 182 yards, while Diggs contributed three catches for 21 yards vs. the Chiefs.

The Bills are better off offensively when they’re a balanced attack and reliant on intermediate throws with running back James Cook and tight ends Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox. But with Diggs on the field, Allen will often look downfield to get him involved, which tends to lead to costly turnovers. Also, Diggs had a rough year on the field and started the season with a strange absence in training camp. The last time Diggs recorded at least 100 receiving yards in a game occurred in Week 6 vs. the New York Giants.

With the Bills having cap space issues, they might opt to trade the 30-year-old Diggs and his expensive contract. Buffalo is currently $43.7 million over the cap, according to overthecap.com. Diggs has a $27.8 million cap hit number in 2024.

49ers should chase Kirk Cousins after Purdy’s rocky performance

Manzano’s view: Fiction

If the 49ers don’t win the Super Bowl, rumors will probably swirl in the offseason about Kyle Shanahan looking to reunite with Kirk Cousins, a pending free agent for the Minnesota Vikings. But we’re not at that point because the 49ers’ current starting quarterback, Brock Purdy, delivered an impressive go-ahead touchdown drive to defeat the Green Bay Packers and advance to the NFC title game. Purdy completed 23-of-39 passes for 252 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

Purdy, a 2022 seventh-round pick, missed several throws, some of which could be attributed to the heavy rain that fell on Levi’s Stadium. But it was a rocky performance before his late-game heroics. Purdy saved the day without dynamic wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who missed most of the game because of a shoulder injury. Regardless, he’ll need to play better in the postseason to help end the organization’s 30-year drought without a championship ring. If Purdy doesn’t deliver, Shanahan might not even get a chance to acquire Cousins, who could re-sign in Minnesota after playing some of the best football of his career before sustaining an Achilles injury.

The Lions have just as many offensive weapons as the 49ers

Manzano’s view: Fact

The 49ers are regarded by many as the owners of the best offense in the league because of the abundance of weapons for Purdy. But the Lions might have more talented skill players and might also have a better offensive line with right tackle Penei Sewell and center Frank Ragnow.

Sure, the Lions don’t have as many All-Pros as the 49ers, but they have a two-headed monster in the backfield with Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery and at least four reliable pass catchers, including tight end Sam LaPorta and wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams and Josh Reynolds. The 49ers counter with running back Christian McCaffrey, tight end George Kittle and wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Samuel, who could be questionable for the NFC title game. The 49ers also have Trent Williams, one of the best left tackles in the league.

The QB matchup isn’t as sexy as the AFC title game, but there will be plenty of star power from both the 49ers and Lions, especially on the offensive side.

Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald directed the NFL’s top defense in terms of sacks (60) and rushing touchdowns allowed (six). 

Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

Ravens’ Mike Macdonald will get a head coaching job

Manzano’s view: Fact

Macdonald’s stock as a head coach candidate skyrocketed after he stifled rookie sensation C.J. Stroud during the Ravens’ dominant divisional round victory over the Houston Texans. Macdonald lacks experience as a 36-year-old defensive coordinator for the Ravens, but what his unit did to Stroud has occurred all season long to opposing quarterbacks. The Texans’ offense led by Bobby Slowik, another popular candidate for head coaching jobs, was held to three points, 213 total yards and only 38 rushing yards.

Many teams tend to favor offensive coordinators, but the NFL is all about trends and teams are interested in Macdonald’s scheme, which follows the staples from longtime defensive play caller Wink Martindale. The Commanders could be a landing spot for Macdonald because the new team ownership wants to add coaches and executives with ties to the Ravens, one of the most successful organizations of the past 24 years. Regardless of where Macdonald lands, he’ll have at least one offer because of what he did to Stroud and Slowik and many other QB-OC combos. Also, don’t overlook Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken as a candidate for one of the open head coaching positions. Ravens coach John Harbaugh got it right by hiring Monken and Macdonald.

Buccaneers should re-sign Baker Mayfield to long-term extension

Manzano’s view: Fiction

The Baker Mayfield rollercoaster experience was on full display during the Buccaneers’ divisional round loss to the Lions. Mayfield shook off a slow start and caught fire in the second half before flaming out with a game-ending interception in the final two minutes of regulation. Mayfield revived his career during a memorable season in Tampa Bay, but it wouldn’t be a wise investment to re-sign the 2018 No. 1 pick to a multiyear extension because of his uneven performances.

There are also many unknowns in this situation. Wide receiver Mike Evans is a pending free agent and offensive coordinator Dave Canales is in contention for head coaching jobs. Those two were instrumental in Mayfield’s bounce-back season—he recorded 4,044 passing yards with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during the regular season. But if Evans and Canales are back in 2024, perhaps another one-year deal with a sizable pay bump for Mayfield could be the best option for the Buccaneers.

Mayfield’s killer interception wasn’t solely his fault because of some poor protection, and he kept the Buccaneers competitive throughout the game. He’ll likely be in the mix for another starting gig regardless of whether he returns to Tampa Bay next season.


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