The Lions closed the preseason with an ugly 35-17 loss to the Browns. Does it matter? Justin Rogers and John Niyo of The Detroit News discuss. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Allen Park — Quandre Diggs is used to being overlooked.
At 5-foot-9, he’s always been considered undersized. And he didn’t post great numbers at the scouting combine coming out of college. Even in his own family, he's had to fight out from behind the shadow cast by brother Quentin Jammer, a former first-round pick who played 12 years in the NFL.
So while plenty of attention was paid to Golden Tate, and whether the Detroit Lions would extend the veteran receiver's expiring contract before the start of the 2018 season, little ink was spilled on Diggs, who was also entering the final year of his deal.
But the Detroit Lions didn’t forget about Diggs. To the contrary, he ended up being the priority for a contract extension. And on Monday, the Lions awarded the versatile defensive back with a new, three-year deal.
“Quandre has developed into one of our core defensive players and we are excited to come to this agreement that will have him as a Detroit Lion for the next four seasons.” Lions general manager Bob Quinn said in a statement. “I also want to thank Quandre and his representatives for their work in making this extension a reality.”
Terms of the extension were not disclosed, but the NFL Network is reporting the pact is worth $20.4 million.
But just because the Lions rewarded Diggs for his performance, don’t expect those millions of dollars to fill the canyon-sized chip he’s always had on his shoulder.
“I’m always going to have motivation, man,” Diggs said. “I’m a sixth-round draft pick, so end of the day man, 32 teams passed me up. I’m always going to have a chip on my shoulder. Ain’t going to be nothing different.
“I beat the odds, man,” he said. “Sixth-round pick, pick 200. I beat the odds on what I was supposed to be.”
The Lions selected Diggs out of Texas in 2015 and the highly-productive college standout was forced into the team’s starting lineup as a rookie due to injuries. After proving himself capable in the audition, he entered his second year as a starter, but struggled in coverage before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 12.
Diggs returned healthy last season, and his play blossomed in his third year. He started the campaign by effectively slowing down future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, kick-starting a string of impressive performances from the nickel cornerback spot.
But when safety Tavon Wilson went down with an injury late in the year, Diggs was offered an opportunity to showcase his flexibility, unexpectedly moving to safety and thriving at the spot.
The highlight of the transition was three consecutive games with an interception, the first three of his young career.
This offseason, he had to prove himself all over again this offseason, show to new coach Matt Patricia he could fit in the team’s new defensive scheme. Like every challenge, Diggs embraced it and quickly won over his new boss.
“Somebody that can be versatile and do it at a high level, like he can in multiple different positions, makes him very valuable to the defense and to the team,” Patricia said. “The instinctual part of it to, again, when you’re lining up in a safety position, you’re looking at the defense maybe from the top down. When you’re closer to the box, it’s maybe a little bit more peripheral, kind of all around you, that’s kind of a rare trait and that’s something that we identify that he has that he’s able to do at a high level.”
Diggs doesn’t view himself as locked into one position and is annoyed others might. He believes he was on his way to establishing himself as a top-20 cornerback before the Lions called upon him to shift to safety. He’s primed to see time at both spots this year.
On Monday, teammates reveled in the attention the typically low-key Diggs drew in the locker room. Cornerback Darius Slay loudly conducted a mock interview with an imaginary microphone before Diggs talked to local media. It’s clear he’s well-liked by his teammates are they are genuinely happy for his success.
Even though the negotiations had been going on for weeks, Diggs remained tight lipped about a potential extension throughout camp. He found out the deal was done on Saturday, while at home watching college football with his girlfriend and best friend.
Raised in Angleton, Texas, a small suburb outside of Houston, Diggs said he didn’t have any lavish plans for his new-found wealth, and certainly not on a fancy car.
“I don’t spend money like that,” he said. “Y’all have to understand, I’m from the country. I’m from a little town just outside of Houston. We ain’t got nothing to spend money on. …I’ve got a truck. I’m good.”
Diggs could have waited until free agency, and with a repeat of last year's performance, could have earned more, but securing his future in Detroit proved more appealing.
"That was a bid deal in the deal getting done," he said. "I want to be here. I’m excited being in Detroit. The city has grown so much since I’ve been here. I just want to be a part of this community. Texas is always going to be home, but at the end of the day, Detroit will always be home, too."