Vikings ‘In No Major Rush’ to Extend Justin Jefferson’s Contract

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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 most critical issue in the Vikings’ orbit is if — or when — Justin Jefferson will sign a new contract. It should be the top priority for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah who claimed that it would be a failure on his part if he can’t lock up the face of the franchise for the future.

Vikings ‘In No Major Rush’ to Extend Justin Jefferson’s Contract

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Feb 9, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, US; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson poses for a photo after receiving the award for AP Offensive Player during the NFL Honors award show at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jefferson will command a huge salary – rightfully so. He led the league in receiving yards and receptions, and the argument can be made that he is the most important non-quarterback in football. While it might be essential to secure Jefferson’s service, the franchise is reportedly in no rush to get a deal done, according to Jeremy Fowler from ESPN, who talked about the situation on SportsCenter on Sunday.

Could be big money on the way at some point. The Vikings believe that he’s a cornerstone player, the best receiver in the league. They want to sign him to an extension at some point. Two potential hurdles in the way, though. He’s only three years into a rookie deal that has two years left with a fifth-year option, so not in a major rush to do it right now.

And then the market for receivers, you’re looking at around $30 million or more. Tyreek Hill makes $30 million a year on a big deal but they might need to make Jefferson the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. So, those are some hurdles but certainly the Vikings want to do this at some point. Jefferson is expected at training camp regardless.

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Hill is 29 years old, while Jefferson just turned 24. Therefore, he might have even more upside than what he has shown so far. A scary thought for defenses. No player has ever recorded more receiving yards in the first three career seasons, and no player has ever recorded more yards before turning 24. Jefferson is a phenomenal talent.

The receiver has a cap hit of $4,175,437 in 2023 and will earn just under $2.4 million. Those numbers will rise in 2024. Both cap hit and salary are scheduled to be $19,743,000 in 2024.

Once the two parties agree to a contract extension, it will not change his 2023 cap hit but could impact the 2024 number, depending on the contract structure. The Vikings could rip apart the fifth-year option, replace it with the new contract, and artificially lower the cap hit. However, adding the new contract after the 2024 campaign is also possible. That is next to the salary, a huge part of the negotiations.

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Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates the win after the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The wideout is the face of the franchise and the best player on the team. Kevin O’Connell and the Vikes will go as far as Jefferson and the passing attack take them. In the upcoming season, he will have a new running mate. Jordan Addison was drafted in the first round to be a second WR next to Jefferson for years to come. JJ is even included in roster-building questions. Ben Goessling tweeted in February:

One interesting note from Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah‘s side session with beat writers at the combine: He said the team will keep Justin Jefferson in its conversations about roster-building, adding, “He’s a unique enough player that I think that’s probably right.”

One of those questions will be the selection of the next franchise quarterback. The organization enters the final year of Kirk Cousins’ contract and needs to either extend his deal or draft his successor. Jefferson’s input could be in favor of Cousins, who helped him set all of his records, as the duo has a fantastic connection, but he might also want a new passer who can be with the team for longer than the aging Cousins could.

A contract extension for Jefferson is fully expected to get done over the summer. He stated his intention to be present at training camp no matter his contractual situation.

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