Did the Justin Jefferson Extension Just Clear its Final Hurdle?

justin jefferson
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Sure, Justin Jefferson may be looking to “break the bank,” but the bank just got a bit more money.

Yesterday, the NFL released the news that the salary cap in 2024 was going to be more abundant than previously believed (as Florio prophesied). “The NFL salary cap has taken a historic leap for the 2024 season,” Kevin Patra explains on NFL.com, “The league announced on Friday that the salary cap will be $255.4 million per club in 2024. The figure marks an unprecedented $30-plus million rise over last season’s cap.”

The Viking, Justin Jefferson, & The Stalemate’s Last Gasp

Presumably, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is thrilled.

His press conference following the end of the season featured him speaking positively about gaining back some financial flexibility: “Yeah, I think when you look at that, the point of that was to still provide ourselves a chance in the tournament every year while regaining financial flexibility, finding the next generation of great Vikings players, incorporating our systems that we value so much. And I think when you look back at it, I think we’ve done a lot of positives.”

“I think we’ve regained some of our financial flexibility,” Adofo-Mensah goes on to add.

Lottery Ticket QB
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Notably, Adofo-Mensah was offering those thoughts at a time when the overall team budget wasn’t as rotund. Tossing in roughly $13 million in added room means there’s financial freedom that the GM likely wasn’t aware of.

Bring things around to the player’s side.

Was the receiver intentionally slow playing things a bit? The NFL’s players have a keen interest in a rising salary cap since it’s the pot of money a team can draw on to provide the pay. A higher salary cap means more chances for a player to land a major stack of cash.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Not too long ago, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert explained that Jefferson is looking to do precisely that.

Seifert sees a direct connection between the scale of Jefferson’s statistical output and the size of Jefferson’s next contract: “From Jefferson’s perspective, there is no precedent to the deal he will eventually sign — with the Vikings or another team — because there is no precedent to what he’s produced during his first four NFL seasons.”

Seifert’s argument — one that has a pile of merit — is that Justin Jefferson isn’t content with merely becoming the highest-paid receiver. Rather, he wants a unique deal to mirror his unique excellence: “Jefferson’s responses to questions over the past few months suggest he is seeking something beyond the standard incremental market raise.”

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Let’s assume the Seifert interpretation of Jefferson’s comments is accurate. The Vikings’ WR1 wants an ATM-draining deal, a staggering amount that pays him according to his spot as being among the NFL’s truly elite stars. Does a salary cap increase help get the deal across the finish line?

One would think so.

The increased budget now stands alongside the affirmation from Minnesota’s ownership, front office, and coaches that keeping Jefferson in town is a foremost priority. Plus, Jefferson himself has been quite consistent in his desire to keep calling Minnesota home.

Update Swats Away
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The adjusted cap means that Minnesota is working with close to $36 million in cap space. That’s an amount that hasn’t been enhanced by any cuts, extensions, or restructures. In fact, a Jefferson extension comes with the added intrigue of being able to clear nearly $14.9 million off of the team’s 2024 cap.

So, in theory, Jefferson could get his payday while simultaneously giving the team more space to bring in talent. Winning is a foremost priority for the receiver, so this isn’t a minor point. Get paid and give the team a better shot at competing in the immediate.

In four seasons, Jefferson has put up 392 catches, 5,899 yards, and 30 TDs. His average season thus involves 98 receptions, 1,475 yards, and 7.5 TDs. Keep in mind that the numbers are a bit modest due to him missing seven full games and two partial games in 2023.

He will turn 25 on June 16th and is a team captain.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.