Tom Brady and Stefon Diggs are both bidding for a spot in Super Bowl LV during the conference championships on Sunday. In some alternate reality, that fact still remains true, albeit with both stars possibly playing for the New England Patriots. In the hours leading up to the AFC and NFC title games, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network highlighted the seismic offseason trade between the Vikings and Bills that landed Buffalo Diggs, who then turned in a 2020 season where he was named first-team All-Pro.
While it was the Bills who proved to be successful in their pursuit of Diggs on that fateful March 16th evening, Buffalo's AFC East rival in New England was also considered to be a finalist for the receiver's services, per Rapoport. In fact, the Vikings even called the Patriots back to see if they would match or improve on Buffalo's final offer, which was four picks including a 2020 first-rounder (Justin Jefferson). When the Patriots declined to up the ante, the deal was executed between Minnesota and Buffalo, with Diggs heading to the Bills.
While the actual deal on its own proved to be a true game-changer for both the Bills -- who finally got a star receiver to pair with Josh Allen -- and the Vikings -- who landed rookie standout Justin Jefferson -- it may be even more impactful to the league's landscape than originally thought.
In the aftermath of New England declining to go full steam and acquire Diggs on March 16, Brady officially announced on March 17 that he would be leaving the organization and signing elsewhere in free agency. Could acquiring Diggs have also cemented that Brady would have remained in New England for the foreseeable future? It's hard to say definitively, but it certainly would have swung the momentum in the Patriots' favor in keeping their franchise icon.
While things didn't work out for New England in the days and months following that failed pursuit of Diggs, both the quarterback and receiver seem to be doing just fine with the Bucs and Bills, respectively.
In his first season with Tampa Bay, Brady threw for his most passing yards (4,633) since the 2017 season when he won league MVP. He also had 40 passing touchdowns, which is the most since he threw a then record-breaking 50 scores during New England's undefeated regular season in 2007. As for Diggs, he led the league in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535) in 2020.
Now, both are playing for a chance to advance to the Super Bowl while Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots brass are potentially asking themselves, "What if?" as they continue planning for their offseason rebuild following a 7-9 campaign.