National Football League
What Stefon Diggs means for C.J. Stroud and why the Texans went all-in
National Football League

What Stefon Diggs means for C.J. Stroud and why the Texans went all-in

Published Apr. 9, 2024 12:44 p.m. ET

At his best, Stefon Diggs could give the Texans a weapon that makes their explosive pass game even more potent. He could shore up the deficiencies of their offense overall. On paper, he makes Houston one of the AFC's elite teams.

If he's at his best.

That's the big question, not only because of his age (he turns 31 in November) but also because of the stakes tied to his arrival in Houston. The Texans reportedly wiped out the final three years of Diggs' contract after acquiring him in last week's blockbuster trade, making him an unrestricted free agent after the 2024 season.

The team also took the $3.5 million guaranteed to the veteran wide receiver in 2025 and moved it into 2024, assuring him of $22.5 million in guaranteed money. The Texans gave up a 2025 second-round pick to get Diggs, a 2024 sixth-round pick, and a 2025 fifth-rounder from Buffalo.


In a vacuum, Houston gave up a premium pick for one year of an aging Diggs. And because they voided the final three seasons of Diggs' contract, the Texans won't be eligible to receive a compensatory pick if he leaves after the season.

It's a big risk, but one that falls in line with what the Texans have done this offseason.

They've been aggressively constructing their roster around quarterback C.J. Stroud, whose rookie contract affords the team financial flexibility. In addition to Diggs, here are Houston's other high-profile pickups this offseason: Pro Bowl edge rusher Danielle Hunter (two years, $49 million), defensive lineman Denico Autry (two years, $20 million), linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (three years, $34 million), and running back Joe Mixon via trade (three years, $27 million).

It's clear that the Texans feel that with Diggs, they have a team that can contend for a Super Bowl. That's the most reasonable justification of an arrangement that seems to most benefit Diggs.

Considering that he'll have the opportunity to prove Buffalo wrong and become a free agent at the end of the season, the Texans are banking that the perennial Pro Bowl receiver will be motivated to have a big 2024.

With Stroud at quarterback and two other top receivers already on the roster in Nico Collins and Tank Dell, Houston's pass game is poised to be lethal.

For starters, the Texans should be even better than they already were against zone coverage.

Among qualified quarterbacks last season (min. of 100 dropbacks against zone coverage), Stroud ranked second in touchdowns (15), interceptions (2), passer rating (10.4), expected points added per dropback (0.15), and third in yards per attempt (8.4), according to Next Gen Stats.

Since 2020, his first year in Buffalo, Diggs against zone coverage has the third-most receptions (284), the sixth-most receiving yards (3,315), and the 10th-most touchdowns (13), plus a league-high 25.5 receptions over expected, per NGS.

Houston's prolific deep passing game becomes even more difficult to scheme against, too.

Diggs accumulated 1,772 receiving yards on vertical routes during his Bills tenure, fifth-most in the league over that span, per NGS. Collins last season ranked fifth in the league with plus-169 receiving yards over expected on such routes.

Overall, the Texans last season ranked fourth in the NFL with 69 pass plays of 20-plus yards, according to Sportradar. And that was with Dell missing six games. Through Week 12, Dell led Houston and was tied for 10th in the league with seven "deep" receptions (20 or more air yards), according to Next Gen Stats. 

A healthy Dell paired with Collins and Diggs gives Houston one of the NFL's best wide receiver trios.

The Texans' run-game issues last season have been well-documented — that's a big reason why they went after Mixon — but Houston was also inconsistent in the red zone, where it ranked 16th in touchdown efficiency. 

Well, Diggs is a machine inside the 20-yard line.

Since 2020, the perennial Pro Bowl receiver is first in receiving yards (415) in the red zone, fourth in touchdowns (28), and fifth in receptions (52). Of the 36 wide receivers who have at least 25 receptions during that span, Diggs also ranks 10th with 0.48 expected points added per target in that portion of the field.

That's a snapshot of Diggs at his best, which is exactly what the Texans are banking on.

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.


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