Tuesday was an emotional day for wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
ESPN's Courtney Cronin delved into the deal and called it the "right decision" for Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and the organization, who strive to keep continuity on the team.
Cronin said that Diggs' extension "sends a message: Minnesota believes in Diggs and sees his value not for what he is now but in how good he can be in this offense, surrounded by this cast for years to come."
She added that Diggs, whom the Vikings drafted in the fifth round in 2015, "was too important to the success of this operation" to not secure when they could. Cronin said that it's difficult to summarize his value in a succinct manner. She wrote:
But if that was the case, the Vikings wouldn't be paying Diggs what they are. Diggs may not have the heralded numbers when it comes to catches or receiving yards, but those stats don't always tell the full story. Over the last two seasons, Diggs ranked second in reception percentage (71.8) for receivers with a minimum of 200 targets, according to ESPN Stats and Information. He reached 200 career receptions in the fewest games of any Vikings receiver, beating Randy Moss (42) by two.
The way he's mastered his route tree, how he tracks the ball in the air, fights through press coverage, doesn't fear contested catches and plays bigger than his frame gives the Vikings a wealth of options in which to best utilize his skillset.
Cronin said that Diggs' 6-foot build could lead defenders to believe that he "won't be able to bang around" with bigger defensive backs in the red zone, but she pointed out that he's been extremely effective inside the 20. She quoted Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo, who addressed the topic during his podium session Tuesday:
"I think, number one, is his speed," DeFilippo said. "I think corners in this league have a really hard time knowing that, hey, he might run by me on a fade route, so they're going to give him a little bit of cushion which opens the room for quick outs, slants, gives him room to catch and run with the football.
"He's strong enough to be able to catch and run with the football, break a tackle and dive into the end zone," DeFilippo continued. "His overall speed and explosiveness is why you see some free access on him in the red zone."
Ham a versatile weapon in Vikings offense
C.J. Ham earned himself a spot on the Vikings roster last season after making the transition from running back to fullback, and the move has paid off thus far.
John Nowacki of the Duluth News Tribune wrote the following of Ham, who starred at Denfeld High School:
If Duluth football fans were worried about their favorite son getting lost in the Vikings new scheme, with Minnesota bringing in a new offensive coordinator in John DeFilippo, rest assured. There appears to be a place for Ham on the Vikings plate.
Nowacki quoted DeFilippo, who spoke to media members Tuesday morning and said it's "nice when you have a fullback" on the field.
"It allows your play-action game to really take off," DeFilippo said. "It obviously allows you to run the football with two backs and some old-school isolation plays. And you can run power with a fullback, which we love."
While there is a learning curve whenever a new system is installed, including new terminology, Ham said it's been incredibly smooth under DeFilippo. With star receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen — who, like Ham, is a Minnesota native — running back Dalvin Cook back from injury and a big-time red-zone target in tight end Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings offense could be potent if the line holds up under free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, and with DeFilippo calling the shots.
Nowacki spoke with Vikings running back coach Kennedy Polamalu, who said that Ham can "play every position."
"He's smart, he's athletic, he's tough and he's accountable," Polamalu said. "He's so reliable that we can trust him at a number of positions. He's just the kind of guy we love to coach."