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GM Brandon Beane on Stefon Diggs trade: 'This is, by no means, the Bills giving up'

Wednesday's trade of Stefon Diggs to the Texans sent shockwaves through the NFL, and left Bills general manager Brandon Beane to publicly pick up the pieces.

His main message: Buffalo isn't waving the white flag with this deal.

"These moves are never easy -- very hard, not made overnight, anything like that -- but any time you make a move like this, as I said, very difficult, you're doing it because  you're trying to win," Beane explained Wednesday afternoon to reporters. "Sometimes people may not see that. This is by no means the Bills giving up or trying to take a step back or anything like that. Everything we do, we're trying to win, and we're going to continue to do that. It's April the 3rd, and we'll continue to work on this roster and make sure we're ready to play come September."

Buffalo's decision to part with one of the NFL's most productive receivers of the last four seasons wasn't easy, as Beane said. But he decided to send Josh Allen's top target to the Texans because, after rebuffing past calls, the timing and terms were right.

"If you're going to move a player, there can be plenty of times," Beane said. "It's not the first time we've been called to ask would we move him, even prior to this year. But you discuss it when you get calls, and there's been plenty of players that's been called about that never got moved that we discussed and just felt like that wasn't the right time, or wasn't the right value.

"I think with this move, as we're talking with Houston in this case the last couple days, the value seemed to make sense and the timing made sense for them and for us, and we worked on the deal and got it finalized today."

If one needs an explanation for the Bills' decision to move Diggs, they don't need to look too far into the past to find it. After pumping out 5,372 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns over four seasons, Diggs' usage dropped once Joe Brady took over for the fired Ken Dorsey at offensive coordinator, going from the 90-percent range of playtime into the 60-70 percent range.

Once Diggs wasn't the focus of Buffalo's passing game, the baggage -- his frequent displeasure with the team's inability to fulfill its potential, plus whatever else caused a spat between he and the team last offseason -- was no longer worth it for Buffalo, as indicated by Beane's willingness to take a 2025 second-round pick in exchange for the 30-year-old Diggs, plus two day-three picks.

The trade does, though, conflict with Buffalo's win-now mentality. The Bills are now left with a receiving corps featuring Curtis Samuel and Khalil Shakir as their top two options, notably missing an upper-tier weapon for Allen to target.

Beane said Wednesday he had not spoken with Allen since making the trade, but remains in frequent contact with his franchise quarterback. Beane admitted he'd notified Allen such a move could be in play prior to striking the deal.

Whether Allen was on board or not might never be known, but the Bills shouldn't worry much about upsetting their quarterback. Allen was, after all, forced to answer for Diggs during the receiver's conflict with the team last spring, and although he handled that situation with professionalism and an outward expression of appreciation for Diggs, it's ultimately better if such an issue never arises.

Buffalo won't have to worry about that now that Diggs is headed to Houston. Beane will, however, have to figure out how to replace him, which won't be a simple task.

"I mean, are we better today? Probably not," Beane admitted. "It's a work in progress, and we're going to continue to work on that. I just hope people know I'm competitive as hell, and I ain't giving in, we're going to work through this and continue to look and I'm confident in guys on the roster, and confident in the staff we have upstairs that helps me, that we'll continue to find pieces to add, and we'll be ready to roll when it comes time in September."

A class loaded at receiver is set to be picked apart by all 32 teams in the draft later this month, and it's fair to expect the Bills to strike at some point. It's also safe to expect Beane to dig into the remaining pool of veteran receivers available in what will likely end up being a piecemeal process of roster construction at the position. It's also worth noting Buffalo has two studs at tight end in Dawson Knox and 2023 first-rounder Dalton Kincaid, so the cupboard isn't exactly bare – it just doesn't have a featured item at receiver anymore.

Ultimately, Beane knows the microscope will be trained on him following a move of this magnitude. After shipping out his team's best pass-catcher, he better find a way to make it work without him.

"I would say it's not September. And every team is a new team, every year is a new year, and we haven't even had a draft yet," Beane said when asked what he'd tell fans after trading Diggs. "So I don't think it's fair to assess what the 2024 Bills are going to look like. It's April the 3rd, we play in September, so let's be patient and let us work through this.

"Was it easy? No. But if you make the best decision for the Bills going forward, that's all you can do, and trust that. And so this organization and our fan base needs to trust that we're going to trot out a damn good team come September. And that's our plan, and that's not changing."

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