Vikings Have One Notable No-Show at Voluntary Workouts

TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota. August 3rd, 2023. The Vikings kicked off the annual night practice in front of a packed house, preparing to defend the NFC North title. Minnesota hasn't won back-to-back NFC North crowns since 2008 and 2009.

As expected, Justin Jefferson did not show up at the beginning of the Minnesota Vikings offseason program on Monday.

Vikings Have One Notable No-Show at Voluntary Workouts

The event is exactly as it sounds: voluntary workouts, and amid contract extension talks, Jefferson stayed away.

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“I’ve had a lot of great dialogue with Justin. My hope is we can get him around the team. Want him here as much as we can have him, but also understand there’s a lot of factors involved,” head coach Kevin O’Connell told reporters.

Jefferson is expected to become the richest wide receiver in NFL history before too long, with his representation and the Vikings’ brass working toward a new contract for over a year. The deal could fetch between $30-$35 million annually.

O’Connell added, “Obviously such a special player, but it goes beyond that, especially this time of year because of just the energy and the flat out way he comes in this building and goes to work and his teammates respond to him.”

justin jefferson
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Jefferson could also be nominated as the highest-paid non-quarterback in the sport’s history. Jefferson said at the Super Bowl’s radio row in February about his future in Minnesota, “I want to break the bank, and I want to be a part of an organization that wants me and really gives me what I deserve. I feel like eventually, the Vikings will do what they need to do to have me in the building but I don’t really know at this moment. Only time will tell. I feel like I have the right people in my circle to negotiate and to do what’s right, and I feel like this whole process of how we handle things, I feel like we did a great job with it.”

He also added on the same day, “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 want to stay.”

Minnesota is perfectly positioned to oblige Jefferson’s asking price because the would-be rookie quarterback’s deal will be affordable for the next 4-5 years. Kirk Cousins left for the Atlanta Falcons in March, paving the way for Minnesota to pay Jefferson handsomely. It’s time to pair an expensive Jefferson with an affordable rookie passer, which was probably general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s plan all along after taking the big job in January 2022.

Minnesota Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the media about the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft from the TCO Performance Center. The Vikings have long-term draft needs at quarterback, cornerback, and interior offensive line.

Adofo-Mensah explained the state of play regarding Jefferson in late February: “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.”

He also said trading Jefferson wasn’t an option. “That is not something that has ever crossed my mind,” Adofo-Mensah replied when a reporter asked about trading Jefferson as a possibility. He added, “You got a blue player, a blue person. You try to keep as many of those as you can.”

Adofo-Mensah, too, stated the Vikings and Jefferson were “incredibly close” to making the extension final last offseason.

Justin Jefferson Quietly
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Jefferson will turn 25 in June. His extension will presumably turn the top priority after the NFL Draft, which is 10 days away.

The phenom playmaker also skipped voluntary workouts in 2023.

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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