Vikings Reporter Says “Not So Fast” on Recent Rumors

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It has been a fascinating offseason in Minnesota as key players Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter left the organization. Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed free agents Sam Darnold and Jonathan Greenard to replace them. He addressed both spots in the draft, aggressively choosing Dallas Turner and J.J. McCarthy in round one.

Vikings Reporter Says “Not So Fast” on Recent Rumors

Tigers receiver Malik Nabers (8) after a touchdown as the LSU Tigers take on Georgia State in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, November 18, 2023. © SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

As if that hasn’t been enough chaos regarding franchise cornerstones, the rumor of a potential Justin Jefferson trade has been making the rounds. After the draft, Mike Florio teased in a video that Minnesota considered trading up for LSU’s star receiver Malik Nabers.

Not many paid close attention, as folks were happy with the draft haul. Adding quarterback McCarthy and top defender Turner was enough to calm down an entire fanbase that desired just that: some help on defense and a new passer to put the hopes in.

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Recently, however, Charley Walters from the St. Paul Pioneer Press reignited that idea, mentioning in a column that the Vikings indeed intended to trade for Nabers while shipping Jefferson.

Pssst: There was buzz at draft time that the Vikings wanted to move from No. 11 to No. 5, not to pick a quarterback but to get LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers, who was picked No. 6 by the Giants. Had that trade occurred, Jefferson would have been traded and Nabers would have been the No. 1 receiver.

Charley Walters, St. Paul Pioneer Press

A strange element of the scenario is that the Vikings tried for weeks to trade up for the third overall pick to secure Drake Maye without including Jefferson in the package. If they wanted to trade Jefferson, he would’ve been included without any doubt.

However, trade rumors will return until Jefferson signs his contract extension. Swapping Jefferson for Nabers and replicating the Diggs/Jefferson trade makes sense on paper because it saves a ton of money. Still, potentially dealing away the best skill position player in the league is hard to sell to the fanbase and the locker room, and at some point, saving cap space can’t be the priority over keeping top players in the building.

Build A Wide
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ESPN’s Vikings reporter Kevin Seifert shot down that theory via a post on the platform formerly known as Twitter:

This rumor has made the rounds, and it’s admittedly juicy, but the Vikings did not try last month to trade up and draft WR Malik Nabers. Great player, but Vikings have a better one in Justin Jefferson. Still working to extend Jefferson and no interest in trading him.

Kevin Seifert, ESPN

His report is comforting, but only a new contract will completely end any trade theories.

Rumors will appear until Jefferson and the Vikings finally sign the dotted lines. It’s quite strange that it hasn’t happened after more than a year of talks about how it is the top priority for both parties. The receiver and the franchise’s decision-makers have constantly stated their intention to get a deal done, but at some point, those words must result in a big payday.

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The highest-paid wideouts in the NFL are A.J. Brown, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Tyreek Hill, at or around $30 million per season. Considering that Jefferson is objectively better or younger than his peers, his salary will undoubtedly surpass their salaries, and he will challenge Nick Bosa’s $34 million per season as the best-paid non-QB in the NFL.

Potentially, the holdup is due to the contract structure (especially guarantees) and the contract length.

Right after the draft, Adofo-Mensah claimed a deal couldn’t be announced because it would diminish the rookie class’ shine. That was fair, but a month later, that deal hasn’t been announced.

Only Week 6
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Jefferson skipped OTAs, a voluntary period in the calendar. The next key date in the seemingly endless saga is the upcoming mandatory minicamp on June 4th. As the name would suggest, it is mandatory.

Fan favorite Jefferson is the team’s best player and the face of the franchise. He holds the all-time franchise records for single-season receiving yards and receptions and is the NFL’s all-time leader in receiving yards per game and yards through the first four seasons of a career. His presence is crucial for McCarthy’s development.

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