Turns Out One Vikings Theory Was Really Wrong

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Week 1 of 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium versus the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings won 23-1 to kickoff the Kevin O'Connell Era in Minnesota.

Remember the theories from February and March that claimed Justin Jefferson might want to leave the Minnesota Vikings if Kirk Cousins didn’t re-sign with the team?

Turns Out One Vikings Theory Was Really Wrong

Those were flat-out wrong.

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With the premiere of his Netflix series Receiver, Jefferson toured the NFL media circuit this week and weighed in about Cousins’ departure. In short, Cousins’ presence on the team in 2024 or beyond had absolutely no bearing on his decision to re-sign in Minnesota for four years and $140 million.

“I always knew that Kirk was going to do whatever he needs to do for his businesses-wise, and I just knew that everything just wasn’t the way he wanted it to be here, especially just with having to pay me and having to pay so many other different guys,” Jefferson said on The Rich Eisen Show. “I feel like he just wanted a new start, a new opportunity to start with Atlanta and a clean slate, and I’m not mad at him at all for that. I’m grateful for what he has brought to me and the things that we have accomplished together.”

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Cousins ultimately joined the Falcons in March, and although Atlanta stunningly drafted Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in April’s draft, he’s on deck to start at QB1 this season. It’s worth noting for context that Cousins fetched the most money available on the open market, funds the Vikings evidently weren’t comfortable affording to the soon-to-be 36-year-old passer.

Jefferson added, “But at the end of the day, it’s a business and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do for yourself and for your family, and I clearly understand that. But it’s on to the next. It doesn’t really matter what quarterback it is in my eyes. I’m always going to try to make the best of the opportunity. I’m always going to try to be the quarterback’s friend and make his job a lot easier. It doesn’t matter if it was Kirk or if it’s Sam or if it’s J.J. I’m going to make it as easy as possible for him.”

Justin Jefferson
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

NFL-themed media even speculated that Jefferson’s long-running contract extension saga would result in a trade. That was also downright false. Minnesota never pondered trading the phenom playmaker, especially after Cousins’ annual top-tier salary flew off the books.

Jefferson’s comments indicate that he enjoyed playing alongside Cousins. However, some imagined that Cousins’ departure would cause disgruntlement, which was simply made up. Complete fiction. Jefferson did not offer the team an ultimatum, and it would’ve been really weird if he had.

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.