The Plot Thickens on Justin Jefferson

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The Minnesota Vikings are in the thick of free agency, adding players like Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, Blake Cashman, Aaron Jones, and Sam Darnold. But soon, they’ll have to get down to brass tacks and extend Justin Jefferson.

The Plot Thickens on Justin Jefferson

Of course, the club hasn’t been shy about its intent — it adamantly wants the wideout in Minnesota for the long haul. But this week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed new information, claiming Jefferson turned down an offer of $30 million annually (or more) last season.

Justin Jefferson
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Schefter told former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovksy, “If the money’s right, he’s going to sign.” Orlovsky then said that most NFL teams would pay Jefferson what he wants, and Schefter replied, “Well, it wasn’t before the season when he turned down in excess of $30 million a year.”

This sheds light on the possible hold-up, as Minnesota’s front office and Jefferson’s representation have been working on the deal for over a year. Offering Jefferson “in excess of $30 million a year” isn’t lowballing the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year — at all — and Jefferson appears to be seeking a contract that shatters all norms with his next deal.

Justin Jefferson Continues
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And if Jefferson wants over $30 million, a sum closer to $40 million per year, that’s quarterback money, and it would fundamentally change how the NFL does business overall. The Vikings must decide if Jefferson is fundamentally worth quarterback money.

Ultimately, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will likely meet Jefferson’s demands, but the Schefter reporting is informative insight into the delay. It’s a massive decision.

Dazzles with 1
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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.”

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

Jefferson has one year remaining on his existing contract, his fifth-year 1st-Round option, so his large extension will kick in for 2025 and beyond. Meanwhile, the rumor mill has started chirping again this week with the theory Jefferson could be traded to a team like the Cincinnati Bengals. Trade-Jefferson rumors were rampant in the weeks leading up to the Combine, but Adofo-Mensah’s comments smacked them down, at least temporarily. Now, they’re back, at least in the shadows.

a Wild Free
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Vikings head coach 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.”

And Jefferson said at the Super Bowl’s radio row one month ago, “I’m definitely grateful for what Minnesota has done for me. I definitely wouldn’t be in this situation if they didn’t pick me, to be the fifth receiver taken. With everything that has happened and everything I have gave to the organization, of course, I would want to stay.”

Other 1st-Rounders from Jefferson’s draft class are awaiting extensions, too. CeeDee Lamb from the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay’s Tristan Wirfs are in the same boat as Jefferson.

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).

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