Jeffersonian Proclamation for 2022: “I’ll Be the Best.”
With Mike Zimmer in charge from 2014 to 2021, the Minnesota Vikings ranked 28th in the NFL in passing attempts, the fifth-fewest in the NFL. The franchise parted ways with Zimmer in January, choosing a new direction with Kevin O’Connell, the offensive coordinator from the Los Angeles Rams, who’s scheduled to throw the football more in 2022.
With that forecasted aerial uptick, the Vikings quarterback and pass-catchers should experience enhanced production. And third-year wide receiver Justin Jefferson knows it.
Jefferson told Complex this week, “I’ll say after this year I’ll be the best receiver in the NFL. I definitely have to give it to Davante Adams as of now, him being so crazy and dynamic on the field. His route running is crazy, so I definitely have to give it to him right now, but I’m pretty sure after this year, it’s going to be me.”
For fantasy football measurements, Jefferson’s personal goal checks out. Most credible draftboards recommend Jefferson as the second WR in summer drafts behind only Cooper Kupp, who led the league in all receiving metrics last year — and played in an offense coached by Kevin O’Connell.
Back in June, Jefferson also mentioned to The Ringer, “Just seeing what Cooper Kupp did last year, that gives me so much hope, gives me so much excitement to see what I can do in the same position that he was. Him being so close to reaching the record, him getting that triple crown, all those things that he accomplished are up in the air for me right now, so we just gotta buy into the system, learn the plays and we all have confidence that KO is going to distribute the ball to different people throughout the offense.”
Why is Jefferson so self-assured? Simple. During his first two seasons as a pro, he’s recorded more receiving yards (3,016) in league history than any other player through the first two seasons of a career. He also ranks fifth all-time in receiving touchdowns in a player’s first two seasons (17). Combine that output inside a Zimmer run-first enterprise with the death of “run-first” in 2022, and Jefferson sees numbers galore — and dollar signs.
Jefferson was asked in April about his next contract — which will hit the books at the start of the 2025 season — in an offseason where wide receivers cashed in mightily, and he responded, “I’m excited for them and excited for what I have in store.”
While the WR money market will continue to grow, Jefferson should net around $30-$35 million per season after his rookie contract. Those chats with Vikings will pick up next spring. Jefferson earns $3.2 million annually now.
Indeed, Jefferson showed deference to Adams, who played for the Green Bay Packers for eight seasons. But now, Adams won’t see the Vikings twice per season — he was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders in March. Green Bay used the trade package from that deal to trade with the Vikings for rookie wideout Christian Watson. The Packers also drafted linebacker Quay Walker with the trade capital.
Jefferson’s best-in-the-league quest begins in one week when Vikings training camp opens in Eagan.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).