INDIANAPOLIS – Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman did his best to quash speculation about Stefon Diggs’ future on Tuesday, saying at the NFL combine “there’s no reason to anticipate (Diggs) is not going to be a Minnesota Viking.”
Diggs caused a stir on social media earlier this month when he removed all pictures of himself in a Vikings uniform from his Instagram account, following a season where he incurred more than $200,000 in fines for skipping two days of meetings and practices following the team’s Week 4 loss to the Chicago Bears. His absence, sources told the Star Tribune at the time, stemmed from frustrations that had been building since the spring over the direction of the offense and his role in it.
The 26-year-old wide receiver gave an enigmatic news conference after his return, saying “there’s truth to all rumors” when asked about his unhappiness, but finished the year with a career-high 1,130 receiving yards while establishing himself as one of the NFL’s top deep threats in the Vikings’ play action offense. His recent social media actions caused a stir, even for a player given to maintaining a cryptic online presence.
Diggs’ five-year, $72 million contract runs through 2023.
“Stefon, last year, had probably his most productive year, and he’s a young receiver we just extended (before the 2018 season),” Spielman said in his first public comments since November. “He’s not only a major part of our offense and a major part of our organization winning games, but he also does a lot of things for this organization off the field. There’s no reason — the rumors or whatever you’re talking about — to anticipate that Stefon Diggs is not going to be a Minnesota Viking. When you have some of the offensive talent that we have, with him and Thielen together, with (Kyle Rudolph) and Irv Smith, with Dalvin Cook and (Alexander) Mattison, we have a pretty good support cast around our quarterback.”
When asked if Diggs wanted to be in Minnesota, Spielman said he had not spoken with Diggs’ agent since the end of the season. Such a meeting could occur this week at the combine; if it does, Spielman said, he will keep the contents to himself.
Spielman’s comments came just over seven years after the general manager famously said the Vikings “have no intent” to trade Percy Harvin, weeks before they dealt him to Seattle for three draft picks. On Tuesday, though, he cast questions about Diggs’ future in Minnesota as speculation.
“No disrespect to your profession, but there are a lot of things that get reported that get sensationalized that maybe shouldn’t be,” he said. “Regardless, we’re going to handle anything we have internally.”
The Vikings also face a decision about Pro Bowl running back Cook, who is entering the final season of his rookie contract. Spielman said has made a priority of keeping his draft picks, and typically he would wait until after the draft to restructure contracts for younger players.
The team has 17 unrestricted free agents, and Spielman said he would meet with “most” of the agents for those players.
He is scheduled to meet with Sunny Shah, agent for cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Set to turn 30 before next season, Rhodes is due to make $9.9 million in 2020, but given that the Vikings can save $8.1 million by releasing him, they could turn Rhodes loose before the start of free agency.
“I’m not going to say who is or isn’t part of the future yet,” Spielman said. “I don’t know.”
©2020 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)