NFL Insider Floats Wild Justin Jefferson Theory

Has Been Kind
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On Tuesday, the landscape of the Minnesota Vikings 2023 season and perhaps long-term history changed with one tweet.

NFL Insider Floats Wild Justin Jefferson Theory

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted, “The Vikings plan to place WR Justin Jefferson on injured reserve because of the hamstring injury he suffered in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City, per sources. The exact timeline is TBD based on how he responds to treatment. But Jefferson is out at least four games.”

Jefferson will now miss games at the Chicago Bears, versus the San Francisco 49ers, at the Green Bay Packers, and at the Atlanta Falcons — at bare minimum.

Floats Wild Justin
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And as Vikings fans just began to fathom the Jefferson-less Vikings, ESPN’s Adam Schefter advanced a wild theory, suggesting the young wideout might milk his injury recovery due to contract disgruntlement.

“Here’s the other unspoken issue that could potentially lengthen Justin Jefferson’s absence: if the Vikings don’t win games and stay competitive, what is Jefferson’s incentive to rush back when he did not land the contract he wanted? His absence could last longer than expected,” Schefter mused on the X app.

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The tweet, almost sounding like it was scripted by Jefferson’s agent personally, essentially claimed Jefferson might play hardball with the Vikings front office. Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Jefferson’s representation nearly finalized a contract extension before the regular season began, but the extension did not come together. In fact, both parties worked on an agreement all offseason, to no avail.

Now, like Jefferson’s teammate T.J. Hockenson in the summer, the two sides could be heading toward an in-season standoff if the Schefter conjecture is true.

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Jefferson has never missed a professional game, so the Vikings embark on a brave new world this Sunday and for the rest of October. The club will presumably lean heavily on rookie wideout Jordan Addison and the aforementioned Hockenson, with pass-catching side dishes of K.J. Osborn, Brandon Powell, and perhaps N’Keal Harry.

Outwardly, Jefferson never expressed any resentment about an extension not materializing last summer. The 24-year-old is expected to break the bank to the tune of $30-$35 million per season with his next contract but did not hold out at Vikings training camp when many players in his situation might’ve used the tactic.

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The Vikings could also shut Jefferson down for the season when he’s eligible to return if the season has gone totally pear-shaped by early November. Why would a 2-8 or 3-7 Vikings team wish to jeopardize Jefferson’s long-term health?

But if Schefter is right — which feels like a longshot based on Jefferson’s competitive gene — perhaps it won’t matter, and the reigning Offensive Player of the Year won’t play again sans a new contract.

The 1-4 Vikings travel to Soldier Field this Sunday for their first game without Jefferson since the 2019 postseason.

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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