ESPN Endorses the Unthinkable for Vikings

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The theory is not the first of its kind, but ESPN provided the most prominent version.

ESPN Endorses the Unthinkable for Vikings

Since January, here and there, various NFL personalities have suggested a Justin Jefferson trade for the Minnesota Vikings, a controversial idea involving the league’s top wide receiver. Jefferson is due for a mammoth contract extension — which could finalize at any minute.

Endorses the Unthinkable
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Well, ESPN upped the ante on Friday in an article detailing one bold move for each team. And for Minnesota, that was trading Jefferson. Aaron Schatz explained, “Jefferson’s salary just ballooned to $19.7 million because of his fifth-year option in 2024, and it’s going to be higher than that if the Vikings can sign him to a long-term extension. He is also making noise that he wants to know the team’s future quarterback plans before he signs that extension. He probably wants Kirk Cousins back. Cousins had one of his best half-seasons in 2023, but giving him another long-term deal at age 35 might not be the best decision for Minnesota’s future.”

Jefferson, indeed, has outwardly expressed his desire for Cousins to return in 2024 but also stated he’d play with any quarterback the franchise brought to the table.

15 Injury Report
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“So why not just go for a total reset? Trade Jefferson for a couple of high draft picks. Use one of them to draft his replacement, the same way the Vikings traded away Stefon Diggs and used the pick they got in return to draft Jefferson. Perhaps that pick can be used on a young quarterback, or to trade up for a better young quarterback,” Schatz added.

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took over Minnesota’s front office two years ago and, from day one, announced the franchise would undergo a “competitive rebuild.” It would be incredibly odd to begin a full reset now, per Schatz’s recommendation, this far into the experiment. Trading Jefferson — or anything similar — is what a new general manager would do at the beginning of the rebuild, not near its conclusion.

Fans Already Split
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Schatz concluded, “Meanwhile, shaving Cousins and Jefferson off the team’s salary ledger will allow the Vikings to sign a number of free agents to improve other positions, building a team that’s ready to compete once they figure out their quarterback situation (presumably with a youngster in either 2024 or 2025).”

Trading Jefferson has become a hot topic in the last month as many have wondered “why it’s taking so long” to extend the phenom playmaker. Many act like Jefferson is the only 2020 draft product without an extension, but in reality, CeeDee Lamb (Dallas) and Tristan Wirfs (Tampa Bay), among others, are in the same boat. Sometimes expensive extensions require patience.

Per PFF, the Vikings Top Players from Best to Worst: After Week 1
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Jefferson’s next contract is expected to fetch $30 million+ per season. Vikings leaders have insisted for over a year that an extension is a no-brainer and will eventually get locked in.

If Jefferson were traded, he could likely fetch at least two 1st-Round draft picks.

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).

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