The Vikings would like to get a deal done with Stefon Diggs before he hits free agency following this season, but the price tag for the wide receiver continues to climb.
Diggs got more good news on the contract front Tuesday when the Los Angeles Rams agreed to a reported five-year, $81 million extension with wide receiver Brandin Cooks that, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, includes $20.5 million fully guaranteed at signing and $50.5 million in total guarantees. The Rams acquired the 24-year-old Cooks from New England in April for the 23rd pick in the 2018 draft and a sixth-round selection.
Cooks, who caught 65 passes for 1,082 passes and seven touchdowns in 2017, is entering the final season of his rookie contract and is scheduled to make $8.4 million this season. Cooks was a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2014.
Diggs was a fifth-round pick of the Vikings in 2015 and is entering the final season of a rookie deal that will pay him a base salary of $1.9 million this coming season. He caught 64 passes for 849 yards with eight touchdowns in 14 regular-season games in 2017. Diggs added 14 catches for 207 yards and one touchdown in two playoff games. That touchdown was the 61-yard catch that gave the Vikings a last-play victory over New Orleans in the postseason.
The Vikings have been proactive for many years in locking up key players entering their second contract — linebacker Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter are the two most recent examples — but they have yet to sign linebacker Anthony Barr and Diggs to extensions and in Diggs’ case he might be wise to wait.
Wide receivers have been cashing of late and Diggs soon could join that group. Spotrac tweeted this on Tuesday after the story of Cooks’ contract broke.
— Spotrac (@spotrac) July 17, 2018
That link provides four comparisons to Diggs when it comes to contracts recently signed by wide receivers. This list includes Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (24 years of age, five-year deal worth $82.5 million, or an average salary of $16.5 million); Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins (25, five-year deal, $81 million, average salary of $16.2 million); Cooks; and Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins (24, three-year deal, $48 million, average salary of $16 million).
If the Vikings can’t reach an agreement on an extension with Diggs, they could put the franchise tag on him for 2019. The Vikings also could pay Diggs big bucks and secure his services for many years to come.
But while Hunter’s deal with the Vikings (five years, $72 million, $40 million guaranteed) was considered team friendly by many, it’s fairly certain that if Diggs stays in Minnesota his contract will be considered to be player friendly.