A New Theory on Justin Jefferson’s Giant Price Tag

The 'Other' Important Race for Justin Jefferson
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

All major Minnesota Vikings’ offseason dominoes have fallen through mid-March — except Justin Jefferson’s contract extension.

A New Theory on Justin Jefferson’s Giant Price Tag

The Vikings entered the offseason with these four key items requiring resolution:

  1. Retain defensive coordinator Brian Flores
  2. Decide Kirk Cousins’ free-agent fate
  3. Decide Danielle Hunter’s free-agent fate
  4. Extend Justin Jefferson
justin jefferson
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The first three are in the books, leaving Jefferson’s next contract still on the to-do list.

According to The Athletic’s Alec Lewis, more clarity may be available on Jefferson’s asking price, a deal that could eventually check in north of $30 million per season. The phenom playmaker is under contract for one more season, and in theory, Minnesota could use the franchise tag on Jefferson twice, though most don’t expect the situation to become that dire.

Jefferson Trade Is More
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Lewis wrote Monday, “The contract extension talks hinge on dollars and trust. Jefferson wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver and one of the highest-paid non-quarterbacks. He also wants to be in a position to win consistently. Offer those two things (at somewhere around $33 million a year with upwards of $80 million guaranteed), and he’ll wear purple for years to come.”

And that would-be price makes sense. An extension, for example, of four years and $132 million would nominate Jefferson as the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history and place him just below San Francisco 49ers EDGE rusher Nick Bosa for most money among non-quarterbacks.

Offseason Is Different
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the 2023 NFL Combine the Week of February 27th. The Vikings have the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said about Jefferson’s upcoming deal at the NFL Combine last month, “We’ve said it, and we’ll continue to say it: we think he’s the best wide receiver in the league and should be compensated as such. We think he’s one of the best non-quarterbacks in the league, think he should be compensated as such.”

Meanwhile, NFL-themed media has run wild with Jefferson trade theories, particularly to teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, although Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell have repeatedly smacked down anything trade-related.

Justin Jefferson
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

“That is not something that has ever crossed my mind,” Adofo-Mensah replied when a reporter asked about trading Jefferson as a possibility.

Kevin O’Connell also said in February that trading Jefferson was borderline ludicrous. O’Connell told PFT Live, “Let me dissect it for you. We have had zero discussions, dialogue about that, either internally, externally, on this planet or another planet.”

While some Vikings fans have grown inpatient with Jefferson’s extension, delays are not uncommon. Dallas Cowboys wideout CeeDee Lamb, from Jefferson’s draft class, awaits his big payday. So does Tristan Wirfs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also a 2020 1st-Rounder.

Jefferson will turn 25 in June.

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.