Vikings Fans on ‘Extension Watch’

Justin Jefferson Weighs in
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Free agents have been signed, about 10 players from the 2022 roster departed, and the 2023 NFL Draft is firmly in the rearview.

The next order of business for the Minnesota Vikings involves contract extensions.

Vikings Fans on ‘Extension Watch’

Yes, those. And three men are at the forefront of Vikings fans’ attention on the topic.

1. Justin Jefferson

Vikings Fans on
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Jefferson told the Pioneer Press before the 2022 preseason began, “I’ll focus on contract after the season. Our main thing is reaching to that goal, but I’m not really too fond of money. I’m really just trying to get that goal of being the best receiver.”

That certainly sounds like a man who’s agreeable and not heading toward a contractual standoff.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in January, just two days after his club was prematurely bounced from the playoffs, that anything contract-related to Jefferson was champagne problems.

“I wouldn’t use the word challenge. You got a special player, a special person. Those aren’t problems. Or at least those are champagne problems,” Adofo-Mensah replied when asked about the feasibility of a long-term deal.

Jefferson, too, confirmed his desire to stay with the Vikings for the long haul. “I will be wherever I’m wanted. If they want me here, I’m here,” Jefferson said after the Vikings playoff loss to the New York Giants.

The reigning Offensive Player of the Year, who leads the NFL in receiving yards in the last three seasons, is about to rattle the NFL’s rim by becoming the highest-paid non-quarterback of all time. It’s a matter of when.

Contract Prediction: Four years, $132 million

2. T.J. Hockenson

Hockenson Chatter
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The guy who looks like the Vikings actual logo — The Norseman — needs a payday. It’s an open-and-shut opinion.

The Vikings kicked off organized team activities last week (OTAs), and Hockenson spoke to reporters about his future. “That’s not really anything I’m focused on. I mean, it is what it is. I think that’s no secret that that’s coming up, but that’s not a focus that I’m worried about. I’m just out here playing football, having fun with the guys, really enjoying the city of Minneapolis, and trying to get around these fans,” Hockenson said.

The 25-year-old grabbed 60 receptions in 10 games as a Viking, a pace fetching 102 catches if spanned to a 17-game season. The 60 receptions were also the most in NFL history by a tight end in his first 10 games with a new franchise.

He wants to ‘be here,’ and the team doesn’t disagree. Like Jefferson, this extension isn’t too mysterious. Just need ink on paper.

Contract Prediction: Four years, $64 million

3. Danielle Hunter

Among Many Items
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Insert DJ record scratch.

Hunter’s plight differs from Jefferson and Hockenson, chiefly because of age. Hunter will turn 29 in October. He’s seeking one more big contract in the pros and only has $5 million in ‘new money’ funneling in this year. The man deserves a pay raise.

But unlike Jefferson and Hockenson, there are no guarantees about the Vikings approach to Hunter. They will probably extend the LSU alumnus, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.

In the end, Hunter is Minnesota’s best defensive player, and refusing to extend the best defensive player on a defense that ranked 30th per points allowed in 2022 would be backward. A deal should get completed, but if any of these three cause fan anxiety, it’s this one.

Contract Prediction: Three years, $60 million

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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