Vikings May Have to ‘Set the Market’ with 2 Players Real Soon

Since the end of the Minnesota Vikings abbreviated playoff run — and even before that — fans have wrestled with Justin Jefferson’s contract regarding the when and how much.

Jefferson is a lock to remain with the Vikings, telling reporters after the 2022 season ended, “I will be wherever I’m wanted. If they want me here, I’m here.”

Vikings May Have to ‘Set the Market’ with 2 Players Real Soon

But Jefferson isn’t the only Viking who may request a market-setting contract. There could be two.

Justin Jefferson

Vikings May Have
Nov 28, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) gestures as San Francisco 49ers cornerback Josh Norman (26) is called for pass interference during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports.

Right off the bat, via your Jefferson contract thinking, fully expect Jefferson’s contract to set the market. Criminality would ensue if the Vikings lowballed the soon-to-be Offensive Player of the Year.

Of course, six months ago, Jefferson famously toldĀ Chris Tomasson from theĀ Pioneer Press, “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.”

While that’s heartwarming, Jefferson will become fond of money in mere weeks. His agent will see to it. If the agent does not, he should be barred from the sport.

Vikings Place 2 Players on IR, Sign 2 New
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Brian O’Neill (75) congratulates Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) for scoring a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

Ari Meirov from The 33rd Team wrote this week about NFL players who will expect big money soon, and Jefferson, unsurprisingly, made the list. He mentioned the Vikings phenom playmaker, “Jefferson, who is eligible for a contract extension, will likely try and take the market to another level.”

“Expect Jefferson to aim for a true $30 million-plus AAV deal in negotiations with Minnesota,” Meirov surmised.

The big bag for Jefferson is coming, will contain $30+ million annually, and the LSU alumnus will fasten to the Vikings depth chart for the next 6-7 years.

T.J. Hockenson

Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) and guard Ezra Cleveland (72) greet fans after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports.

Wait, there’s more.

If you think Hockenson will accept a team-friendly deal or anything of the sort — you’re wrong.

Meirov opined on Hockenson, too, “Considering what Minnesota gave up to get him and the impact he made in Kevin O’Connell’s offense, Hockenson could make a push to become the highest-paid tight end in the league.”

Justin Jefferson Weighs in
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during the first quarter against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“The market for the position has not moved the way other positions have in recent years. Hockenson could try to change that,” he added.

The richest tight end in the world per average annual salary, Darren Waller, earns $17 million per season. Hockenson arrived on the Minneapolis scene with such oomph that he could reasonably demand a market-setting deal.

And the Vikings would be hostage. Why? Well, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah used a big splash to acquire Hockenson, and letting him walk after a year and a half would be a bit embarrassing (Hockenson’s rookie deal runs out in 2023).

Hockenson could settle “in the middle” of the top tier via TE earnings, but to expect or hope he’ll entertain a discount is bogus.

So, Adofo-Mensah must ponder elephantine Jefferson + Hockenson extensions while staring at the league’s third-worst cap situation as of January 27th.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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