RENTON — The ill will and hard feelings that precipitated Quandre Diggs’ departure from Detroit have passed.
When Diggs returns to the Motor City for the first time since his stunning trade to Seattle in October 2019 when the Seahawks play the Lions on Sunday, he said he will remember only the good times.
“Detroit is what made me who I am now,” Diggs said Wednesday. “So I’m forever grateful.”
Diggs spent the first four-and-a-half seasons of his career with the Lions, progressing from sixth-round pick to being elected as a captain by his teammates before his fifth season.
And he makes clear the first three years — when Jim Caldwell was the head coach — were just fine.
The last year-and-half there under Matt Patricia, a former-and-once-again Bill Belichick assistant who brought the same attitude with him to Detroit without the results?
Well, Diggs said it all by not even calling Patricia by name during a roughly 20-minute meeting with reporters Wednesday, at one point referring to Patricia’s time as coach as “the other regime.”
Diggs was dealt by the Lions to the Seahawks five games into the 2019 season — Patricia’s second with the Lions — with Seattle seeking help at safety in the wake of injuries to Bradley McDougald and Lano Hill and with then-rookie Marquise Blair struggling when given a chance to start.
In what ranks near the top of trades during the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era, the cost to acquire Diggs was about as minimal as gets, with many around the league stunned the Seahawks had to give up so little — a fifth-round pick in 2020 with Seattle also getting a 2021 seventh-round pick back. Seattle used the seventh-rounder as part of the package to get Carlos Dunlap the following year, also dealing offensive lineman B.J. Finney.
Diggs has thrived in Seattle, making the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons and getting a new three-year contract worth up to $39 million with $27 million guaranteed.
Patricia, meanwhile, is gone and back in New England as an assistant, fired midway through his third season in 2020 with a 13-29-1 record (general manager Bob Quinn was also fired at the same time), eventually replaced by Dan Campbell.
And when Patricia left Detroit, so apparently did any bitterness Diggs may have still held against the Lions.
Diggs said at the time of the trade that he felt it was “a control thing” for him to be dealt, that the Lions wanted “to control the locker room, control voices in the locker room.”
Diggs alluded to that again Wednesday.
“I’m a pretty outspoken guy,” he said. “Some people can’t take that. So there you go.”
But otherwise, Diggs said he didn’t want to “keep going down that same road. I mean, we’ve talked about it enough, about why the situation happened with me.”
Interestingly, one of the most frank accountings of what occurred came from Carroll during his lengthy opening to the news conference in March to announce the trade of Russell Wilson to Denver. Carroll spoke about second chances and mentioned many players Seattle felt thrived when given a new opportunity with the Seahawks, including Diggs.
“Quandre was another great one that just happened,” Carroll said. “You don’t know that Quandre stepped up in Detroit and said some stuff that he felt needed to be said in that program for whatever was going on, I don’t know what the story was all about. But when he did, he put himself in a light where he wasn’t in great favor there. We were able to give him a second shot at coming to us and look what has happened with Quandre. We just signed him to a huge deal to be a great leader in our program. He’s a magnificent player, back-to-back Pro Bowls and all of that kind of stuff. That’s just because he got a second chance and did something with it.”
But Wednesday, Diggs also thanked Detroit for the first chance it gave him
“Detroit, when it took a shot on a sixth-round guy from Texas, it might have not been me,” he said. “(And without that) I might not be who I am today.”
Who Diggs is today is the leader of a defense that he knows has to get better in a hurry — he was elected a defensive co-captain by teammates before the season along with veteran tackle Al Woods, just as he had been in Detroit before the 2019 season.
True to his reputation for telling it like it is, Diggs was harsh on Seattle’s effort in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to Atlanta, saying the Seahawks weren’t physical enough and that “we stunk it up on defense. … They did whatever they wanted to do today.”
The kinds of words he’s never worried about saying in Seattle, even if they might be the kind that landed him here in the first place.
“I mean, I’ve grown so much being here,” he said. “And mentally, I’m just in a better place. Better head space here. I think it’s just when you’re able to be yourself you can be a full player, and you don’t have to hide who you are. I can get pissed off and say what I want and Pete kind of looks at me and laughs sometimes. So I think that’s pretty cool.”