There’s a New Chapter in the Justin Jefferson Contract Tale

Justin Jefferson's Magic Number
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

There have been two major offseason talkers in Skol Nation, but only one has been resolved: The quarterback position. At first, folks wondered whether or not Kirk Cousins would exit the building after six seasons, and then the speculations about the arrival of his successor in the draft dominated the news. J.J. McCarthy has been chosen to be the new QB1.

There’s a New Chapter in the Justin Jefferson Contract Tale

justin jefferson contract
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

McCarthy is under contract for four years, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can pick up his fifth-year option, but that move will still take three years. The passer certainly wants to throw to Minnesota’s top guy, Justin Jefferson. After an injury-riddled season in which he still produced at an all-time level from a per-game perspective, he is still waiting for his new contract with the Vikings.

Having the uber-productive receiver under contract has been a huge benefit for the Vikings because he played all four seasons on his rookie contract and earned only a fraction of his true value. While other receivers around the league sign new deals with their organizations, Jefferson hasn’t reached an agreement with his employer.

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Trade rumors have come and gone and will likely resurface until the situation is resolved. According to a report from ESPN’s Jeremey Fowler, the Vikings are motivated to find a solution, as he said in an appearance on Sports Center:

This is going to be a market-altering deal when it does happen with Minnesota. I’m told the Vikings are pretty motivated here. They want to try to get something done, they’ve been in active discussions with Jefferson and his representation. So this could not only be making him the highest-paid wide receiver, but the highest-paid non-quarterback, potentially. Nick Bosa makes $34 million a year, we’ll see if he can get to that threshold, but this should get done at some point in the coming weeks and months this summer, that’s the Vikings goal, so they’re pretty dedicated to doing it.

Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

That report matches the claims from Minnesota’s decision-makers, who have always stated their desire to extend Jefferson’s contract. The problem, however, is that those words don’t count for much without that signed deal.

Mullens Not
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The 24-year-old has set various records since the ex-Vikings GM Rick Spielman made the draft selection in 2020. He is the all-time career leader in receiving yards per game, beating the previous best from Julio Jones. Jefferson also smashed the single-season franchise records, previously held by Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Cris Carter, in receiving yards and receptions. Despite his injury in 2023, JJ holds the record for the most receiving yards through four seasons.

That should be enough reason to give Jefferson a blank check, and Nick Bosa’s $34 million to make him the highest-paid non-QB in the NFL is a good benchmark. From a per-year perspective, the leading receivers are A.J. Brown, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Tyreek Hill. Brown’s annual salary of $32 million per season leads all wideouts.

camp schedule
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Just like last year, Jefferson didn’t attend OTAs. Those workouts are optional, but the mandatory minicamp begins on June 4, and as the name would suggest, that is mandatory. Jefferson’s presence or absence on that day will tell about a potential holdout into the summer.

The earlier Jefferson is on the practice field, the better the connection with McCarthy and probable Week 1 starter Sam Darnold will be, so the Vikings should push to find a solution sooner rather than later.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt