Justin Jefferson Still Has a Few Big Milestones within Reach in 2023
Coming into the 2023 season, there were plenty of expectations placed on the shoulders of Justin Jefferson.
The star Vikings receiver was coming off an Offensive Player of the Year campaign in 2022 where he led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards and had continued re-writing record books for young receivers. However, many of those expectations of another mind-boggling statistical season came crashing down when he suffered a hamstring injury that landed Jefferson on injured reserve for seven weeks.
Now, though, Jefferson is set to return to the Vikings’ lineup in Week 14 when they take on the Las Vegas Raiders, and he still has a chance to set a few impressive milestones for fourth-year receivers. Here is a look at three of these marks that remain in reach over the final five weeks of the 2023 season.
4th 1000-Yard Season
In the history of the NFL, there have been a total of four players to total 1000 yards in each of their first four NFL seasons. Those players are Randy Moss (1998-2001), A.J. Green (2011-14), Mike Evans (2014-17), and Michael Thomas (2016-19).
Throughout Jefferson’s first three seasons, he reached these marks with ease, recording 1400, 1616, and 1809 yards, respectively. This time around, it will take a big effort over the final five weeks of the season to hit that mark, but it is certainly possible.
Heading into Week 14, Jefferson has recorded 571 receiving yards this season, meaning he needs 429 more yards to make it happen. He will have to average right around 86 yards per game in order to hit the mark, but assuming he is 100% healthy, this shouldn’t be too much of an ask. Through his first 55 NFL games, the Vikings star has averaged 98.1 yards per game.
400 Career Receptions
This likely will be the toughest mark to reach of the three that we’ll mention today. Not only is Kirk Cousins no longer the QB throwing the ball to Jefferson, but he comes into the game with 360 career receptions.
Jefferson needs 40 more over the final five games of the season in order to reach the milestone this season, or an average of 8 per game. During his torrent start to the 2023 season, he recorded 36 receptions over five games, an average of just over 7 per game. However, this includes the Chiefs’ game where he caught just 3 passes before getting hurt.
If Jefferson is indeed able to reach the mark, he will become just the third player in NFL history to do so in his first four seasons. Jarvis Landry totaled exactly 400 from 2014-17 to begin his NFL season, and then Thomas was the other player to do so, racking up a whopping 470 catches from 2016-19.
4-Year NFL Receiving Record
Prior to the start of the 2023 season, there was talk that Jefferson could not only break the 4-year receiving record, but the 5-year receiving record if he put together a 2000-yard season. That 5-year mark will have to wait until 2024, but he is one big game away from breaking Thomas’ 4-year record of 5512 receiving yards.
Jefferson has been sitting at 5396 receiving yards since Week 5, which is tied for the Vikings franchise record through a player’s first four seasons and second in NFL history alongside Randy Moss. Unless Josh Dobbs, or whoever is throwing the ball for the rest of the season, completely ignores Jefferson for the final five weeks, it is almost certain that this record will fall.
The star needs a measly 117 yards in order to stand alone at the top of the record books, a total that he has surpassed in 21 of his 55 career games.
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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.