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Bills' big off-season catch could opt out over coronavirus concerns

Bills fans may have to wait for their first glimpse of Stefon Diggs in Buffalo colours. The star wideout, obtained in a blockbuster trade with the Vikings, is thinking of sitting out the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bills fans may have to wait for their first glimpse of Stefon Diggs in Buffalo colours. The star wideout, obtained in a blockbuster trade with the Vikings, is thinking of sitting out the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Adding an electrifying receiver such as Stefon Diggs was going to significantly improve the Buffalo Bills’ chances of unseating the New England Patriots atop the NFL’s AFC East Division.

But now the Bills can’t be sure when they’re going to get him.

Less than three weeks before veterans are expected to report to training camps, the NFL and NFLPA are reportedly discussing ‘opt-out’ possibilities for players uncomfortable about returning to the game during the coronavirus pandemic.

Based on his Twitter feed, one of those players is Diggs, who in March was acquired from the Minnesota Vikings by Bills general manager Brandon Beane (along with a seventh-round pick) in a mammoth deal for a first-round pick, a fifth, a sixth and a 2021 fourth-rounder.

“I miss football,” Diggs wrote in a series of posts on Tuesday night. “I love football … with all of me. But there’s so many unanswered questions with this upcoming season, I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable in starting back up.”

Appearing on NFL NOW on Wednesday, plugged-in NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero said the league and union anticipate that opt-outs would be available for players “who either have a pre-existing condition, family (members) with pre-existing conditions (or) just general concerns over COVID-19 (that) would not want to play this season.”

He added that GMs have been told a specific date would be set for opt-outs, but it has yet to be determined.

A handful of MLB and NBA players have already decided the money and their job isn’t worth risking their health and, in turn, the well-being of loved ones.

Diggs is not the only NFLer to express his concerns over playing through the pandemic, but at this point he may be the most prolific.

It’s certainly not an ideal situation, but right now sports-starved fans will take a watered-down product rather than no product at all. Even, quite likely, the desperate-for-success Bills Mafia.


By the time you read this, veteran Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson might already be suspended. Enough influential media members are calling for it after social-media posts by Jackson, including one anti-Semitic message that he attributed to Adolf Hitler, were called “offensive, harmful and absolutely appalling,” by the Eagles themselves. Jackson later issued two separate statements of apology with “a promise to do better.” Don’t bet on them saving him … Instead of waiting for a final determination from medical experts, the government and the league, teams have started to make their own plans for hosting games this season. The Baltimore Ravens announced on Wednesday that, based on the current social distancing guidelines and fan safety protocols, their capacity at M&T Bank Stadium will be fewer than 14,000 seats per game — if fans are allowed to attend at all. The stadium’s capacity is 71,008 … The defending- champion Kansas City Chiefs also announced they will kick off the 2020 season and open defence of their title against the Houston Texans on Sept. 10 by moving forward with a reduced capacity plan, without revealing the number they have in mind.


Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has just one week to sign a long-term contract, or he’ll play on the franchise tag ($31.4 million US) this season and the sides can’t discuss a long-term deal again until 2021. Complicating matters could be the 10-year extension Patrick Mahomes signed with K.C., earlier this week that will earn him in the neighbourhood of a half billion dollars. Prescott has previously stated his desire to be the highest paid QB in the league. Unless they’re having clandestine meetings, it sounds like the Cowboys and Prescott’s reps haven’t had serious discussions since March … If the Cowboys wind up using the tag on Prescott in 2021, it would cost them around $38 million, a 120% increase on his 2020 salary. If they use it a third year, Prescott’s ticket would jump to more than $54 million … Who says you can’t put a price on sentiment? Not Josh Gordon, the career leader in suspensions for violations of the league’s substance abuse policies. The 29-year old receiver is selling the ring he was presented for his contributions in 11 games with the New England Patriots championship team in 2018. (But not the Super Bowl, because he was suspended.) Gordon, who is currently applying for reinstatement, has placed the ring with Heritage Auctions for its memorabilia auction next month. The precious bauble has an estimated value of $100,000.


Players always say their priority is winning, but few mean it. More important to them is grabbing as much money as they can get. And then there’s Sammy Watkins. After earning $52.5 million over six NFL seasons, Watkins accepted a pay cut of $4.75 million from the Chiefs to a $9-million salary (that, with incentives, could push the number to $16 million) in order to have another shot at a championship in K.C.

He could have sought a bigger payday based on his 2019 post-season alone. In three games, he had 14 catches for 288 yards an a touchdown, including a Super Bowl performance that saw him pull in five passes for 98 yards — including a big catch to set up a score in the comeback against San Francisco.

“I’m at the stage of my life now where, at first, I was like: ‘Man, I want to get paid big money again.’ But then I realized: How much money do I need?” Watkins told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “My family is taken care of well. Do I want to go to a team and lose, get 1,000 yards (and) go to a team that’s sorry, whatever the case may be?

“Or do I want to come back with one of the best coaches, the best quarterbacks, the best organizations, the best team, the best wideout group, arguably, and come try to fight for another championship?

“I sat my agent down (when) he was trying to shoot for these big (contract) numbers, and I’m like: ‘Man, let’s just take heed of winning. I know how it felt to win.”


A report on on Wednesday afternoon said Amazon has notified sellers that they have 48 hours to remove items relating to Washington Redskins merchandise. Fanatics, which administers, will continue to be a place to purchase Redskins stuff … After a breakout season in 2019 and “unproductive” negotiations on a new deal, the agent for 49ers running back Raheem Mostert said on Twitter that his client is now requesting a trade.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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