Justin Jefferson Also Provided Good News about Training Camp

Feb 5, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; A detailed view of the grill on the teeth of NFC receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings (18) during the Pro Bowl Games at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After the news hit earlier this week that Danielle Hunter would hold out of Minnesota Vikings mandatory minicamp, folks wondered if the face of the franchise, Justin Jefferson, would follow suit.

Justin Jefferson Also Provided Good News about Training Camp

Well, Jefferson smacked down any mystery about his commitment to the team Tuesday, showing up at camp — with a smile on his face.

Hunter, meanwhile, was indeed absent and is presumably remaining away from the team until a contract extension or trade occurs.

Also Provided Good
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center during 2023 Mandatory Minicamp. Jefferson won the 2023 Offensive Rookie of the Year award and enters Year 4 as a pro in 2023.

But the added perk of Jefferson’s appearance at minicamp is more than just a one- or two-day wonder. Why? He stated he’d be at training camp, too, no matter what happens with his contract extension. The Vikings opted into Jefferson’s fifth-year rookie option for 2024 this offseason — the largest no-brainer on planet Earth — but the playmaker is eligible now for an extension. That agreement will instantly make Jefferson the highest-paid wide receiver ever, somewhere in the ballpark of $30 to $35 million.

Reporters asked Jefferson if he’d attend training camp in July without the fat extension, and he offered a straightforward, non-interpretive reply, “Yeah.”

Getting His Madden
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) runs after a catch during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Jefferson also explained his absence from organized team activities (OTAs), “I had a lot of stuff going on. I mean they didn’t really, you know, force [me] to come back too much. So, it didn’t seem like I was missing too, too much. But they definitely wanted me back here. Wanted to be back here.”

The reigning Offensive Player of the Year has set an NFL record for most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons and toppled Vikings records for receiving yards and receptions in a single season.

Justin Jefferson Absolutely Deserves Award Recognition
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) reacts after a catch against the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

“I love being around the guys. I love being around the team. We want to win the Super Bowl this year,” Jefferson added about the Vikings 2023 intentions, seeming to throw a wrench in some fans’ and pundits’ theory that Minnesota is amid a full roster rebuild.

For now, Minnesota is forecasted to win just 8.5 games by oddsmakers, the same total attached to the team at the beginning of last summer. The Vikings would later win 13 games, a division title in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first year in charge, but lost in the postseason’s first round to the New York Giants.

Explained: Fallout from Vikings Win over Jets
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) and wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) react after a touchdown by Jefferson during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The club will need every drop of Jefferson’s production in 2023 to stave off regression, and welcoming him to minicamp without distraction is a fabulous opening salvo.

And according to Jefferson, folks need not worry about his plans for training camp. You can save that anxiety for Hunter’s future.

Jefferson will turn 24 on Friday.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.