How Would a Justin Jefferson Contract Look?

Vikings Little Movie
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Superstar wideout Justin Jefferson just had his fifth-year option picked up. That was never supposed to be the only contractual move for him in the 2023 offseason and is more of a placeholder, as he is eligible to sign a new deal. Of course, a player of his caliber can and will sign a humungous contract.

Minnesota is a franchise that tries to draft good players and then keep those guys in the building. The previous regime, led by GM Rick Spielman, kept everyone, and the good players all signed a second contract. The list is endless. Stefon Diggs, Dalvin Cook, Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, and so on — all received big deals. Justin Jefferson getting a similar treatment is the obvious move.

How Would a Justin Jefferson Contract Look?

Jefferson contract
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings fans have looked at receiver contracts for years and imagine what a Jefferson deal could look like. It is a nightmare to think about paying a player something north of $30 million per season when that player is not a decent quarterback. The debates surrounding Kirk Cousins’ usual $35 million a season are ongoing, but nobody seems to have a problem with projected Jefferson deals.

Why is that? That is easy to answer. He is phenomenal. While he, and all other receivers, don’t have the impact of a QB, the 23-year-old is the best in the business at his position, his positive personality is contagious, and he is the face of the franchise.

Only a handful of always-negative folks in the Vikings space will complain when he signs his huge contract. The majority wants to keep him on the team and simply watch him play. He is the guy that sells tickets and jerseys in addition to his fantastic play.

Of course, Jefferson deserves every penny, especially when we look at his accolades. In a three-year career, he is a three-time Pro Bowler, is the reigning Offensive Player of the Year, is a first-team All-Pro, and was fifth in the MVP race, an unusual feat for a receiver. Jefferson also led the league in receptions and receiving yards, and his career start is one-of-a-kind. No one ever fired up more receiving yards in the first three seasons. Actually, no one even came close.

Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

The best-paid WRs in the NFL are two older players. Tyreek Hill makes $30 million a season on his current deal with the Dolphins, Davante Adams $28 million. Both signed the dotted lines a year ago after their trades. However, Jefferson is worth much more for one reason, age. The duo’s production is incredible, they belong in the conversation to be the best WRs in the game, but Adams is 30, and Hill is 29. They have a couple of years left at that level. Jefferson could have another decade if he stays healthy.

In addition to that, we have seen the primes of the two. Jefferson got better in 2022, so he might have another gear. That is a scary thought for defenders. He likely wants to earn more than the two and deserves it.

So what will his eventual contract look like? Does he receive money, a part of the franchise, or even half of Minnesota? There hasn’t been a comparable receiver in the last few years. Young superstar Odell Beckham Jr. signed his extension years ago. The NFL landscape changed drastically since then.

Bleacher Report tried to project his next deal. His projected numbers: Six years, $190 million, $97.5 million guaranteed.

The justification for paying Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson isn’t especially hard to identify. Since entering the NFL in 2020, Jefferson has more receiving yards than any wideout in the game. In fact, he has more receiving yards over his first three seasons than any player at the position in the history of the NFL.

Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report

The long deal, Bleacher Report’s deal would keep Jefferson in Minnesota through 2030, makes sense for the franchise for two reasons. Jefferson would stay with the team for a long time which is the goal for the Vikings, and they could move his cap hit around for whenever the front office wants it to hit the book. A longer contract helps with that. His annual average of roughly $31,7 million would make him the highest-paid receiver in the league.

Why Has the Vikings Pass Defense Faltered Lately?
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

There’s also the matter of Kirk Cousins’ future in Minnesota. The 34-year-old is entering the last year of his contract. If he’s brought back, it’s going to cost at least $40 million per season. If he isn’t, the Vikings will have to figure out a future under center—and sell their star wideout on it.

Provided that Cousins plays at the same level in 2023 as he has in recent years, the Vikings will (to some fans’ chagrin) bring back the veteran. And that point, the next course of action will be giving Jefferson the biggest contract any NFL wideout has ever seen.

And then there’s going to be a lot of cap maneuvering to be done.

Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report

The Vikings could very well bring QB Kirk Cousins back. He is an above-average passer, something that Jefferson certainly appreciates, and the teammates formed an outstanding connection over the years. Cousins deserves credit for Jefferson’s accolades. The receiver’s outlandish cap hits won’t hit the books in 2024, which could open the door for another season with Cousins under center.

An alternative is to find his successor, preferably in the draft, to have a cheap QB, which would totally balance out the huge Jefferson contract. If that guy is actually good, the duo can be a scary sight for the NFL for years.

Open for Business
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The two most important things to do in the next few years for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah are finding a new quarterback and extending the superstar’s contract. Jefferson’s deal should be done sometime in the next three months. The new quarterback could enter the building in the next draft.

The addition of Jordan Addison in the draft’s first round could help Jefferson on the field. He is constantly going up against double teams. The safety help is always on top. The fact that he still manages to put up impressive numbers shows how good he is. If Addison can draw some attention, Jefferson will feast even more.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt