Market Thickens for Justin Jefferson’s Contract

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

If you blink, you might miss an NFL wide receiver grabbing a fat paycheck.

Market Thickens for Justin Jefferson’s Contract

The action is hot and heavy for wideouts, and Thursday was no different, as Miami Dolphins pass-catcher Jaylen Waddle became the latest to break the bank.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17), runs by Carolina Panthers defensive back Myles Hartsfield (38) and Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26), for a long gain that would lead to a touchdown late in the quarter of their NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday in Miami Gardens. © BILL INGRAM /THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK / USA TODAY NETWORK.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “This just in: Miami and WR Jaylen Waddle reached agreement today on a three-year, $84.75 million contract extension that includes $76 million guaranteed, per sources. The deal makes Waddle one of the league’s top five highest-paid receivers. WME Football negotiated and confirmed the deal.”

Two days prior, Schefter broke the news of Houston Texans wideout Nico Collins getting paid: “Compensation update: Texans and WR Nico Collins agreed to a three-year, $72.75 million extension with a max value of $75 million that includes $52 million guaranteed. The deal was negotiated and confirmed by Drew Rosenhaus, Ryan Matha and Jason Rosenhaus.”

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And those deals are on top of men like Amon-Ra St. Brown and A.J. Brown securing large long-term contracts in the last six weeks. As of May 30th, the high-profile WRs awaiting huge extensions include:

  • Brandon Aiyuk
  • Ja’Marr Chase
  • Tee Higgins
  • Justin Jefferson
  • CeeDee Lamb

Of, course, nestled in that list is Minnesota Vikings playmaker Justin Jefferson, whose extension talks have spanned about 17 months. Soon after the 2022 season capped, Minnesota’s front office and Jefferson’s representation opened a dialogue about extending his stay, and with 2024 mandatory minicamp five days away, no deal has been finalized.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, the market for wide receivers has thickened.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said last week on SportsCenter, “CeeDee Lamb appears to be waiting on Justin Jefferson, really the whole league is waiting on him to get done. He could be the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league when it’s all said and done for Minnesota.”

This is how it often works with player contracts, as the market constantly resets. In theory, if Lamb signs down in Dallas for $33 million per season, for example, well, Jefferson can grab $34 million and claim the status of the league’s highest-paid wideout.

“So, if he’s making $34 million a year, and you’re Lamb, you don’t want to jump out yet you want to wait for him to do that and then circle back with Dallas,” Fowler added.

Justin Jefferson
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s also worth noting that back-to-back Vikings’ general managers, Rick Spielman and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, usually wait until late in the summer or right before the regular season to hand out ginormous extensions. T.J. Hockenson’s deal didn’t become official until August 31st, 2023, so the Jefferson saga could continue for a few months.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell noted two weeks ago, “I know everything’s gonna get worked out there. Justin knows the love and admiration that I have for him. He knows he’s such a big part of what we do around here. That’s on the field and off the field. Bringing such a great energy to our building every single day.”

Overall, multiple receivers have earned their paydays this offseason, and Jefferson remains in a group of five still waiting. He’ll likely end up as the top dog per WR average annual value, somewhere in the ballpark of $35 million per season.

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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