The Minnesota Vikings have held preliminary discussions with superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson surrounding a long-term contract extension, according to multiple reports. Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah confirmed that talks have taken place. The Vikings are expected to make Jefferson the highest-paid receiver in NFL history.
Jefferson is currently scheduled to enter the fourth year of his rookie contract in 2023. The Vikings also possess the right to exercise Jefferson’s fifth-year option, which would keep Jefferson on the cost-controlled wage scale through 2024. Jefferson is however eligible to sign an extension this summer, and his representation is undoubtedly anxious to begin the negotiation process.
Jefferson will undeniably aim to become the highest-paid receiver in football history. Jefferson is an elite talent that will rightfully aim to rewrite the record books from a financial perspective. Doing so would mean Jefferson surpasses the record-setting four-year, $120 million contract signed by Tyreek Hill last offseason. Hill’s average annual earnings of $30 million and guaranteed money ($72.2 million) shattered the previous record, per Spotrac. Cooper Kupp later signed a three-year extension with the Rams that contained $75 million in total guarantees but fell short of Hill’s annual earnings ($26.7 million).
Jefferson could command something in the neighborhood of a four-year extension worth $128 million with more than $75 million in guarantees. Jefferson would earn approximately $32 million annually, surpassing Hill’s average yearly earnings. The Vikings are willfully aware of Jefferson’s rare abilities. They should be fully prepared to come to the table with a similar offer.
Jefferson immediately exploded as a rookie while totaling 88 receptions for an at-the-time-modern-day-record 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. Jefferson somehow improved as a sophomore, having accounted for 108 receptions, 1,616 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns all while eliminating any concerns of hitting a second-year wall. In 2022, Jefferson’s game soared to new heights under the tutelage of first-year coach Kevin O’Connell.
Jefferson thrived in O’Connell’s system by leading the league and setting career highs in receptions (128) and yards (1,809). O’Connell is an offensive-minded leader that possesses a high-level understanding of how to place Jefferson in advantageous situations. O’Connell had previously done something similar with Kupp in Los Angeles, which is partially what drew Minnesota to O’Connell.
Jefferson should be even more comfortable in O’Connell’s scheme in 2023. It’s a downright scary thought for opposing defenses. A 2,000-yard season and triple crown are within the realm of possibility for Jefferson.
Who will Jefferson be catching passes from in Minnesota? It’s a question worth pondering. Veteran starting quarterback Kirk Cousins is signed through the 2023 season. Expectations are that Cousins will return as Minnesota’s starter next season, but Cousins’ long-term future with the franchise hangs in the balance.
The Vikings just experienced another disappointing and premature end to their campaign. Minnesota was bounced from the playoffs by the New York Giants on Super Wild Card Weekend. It brings Cousins’ ability to captain the Vikings to a Super Bowl into question. Jefferson will remain productive regardless of Minnesota’s quarterbacking plans.
Today’s pass-happy league is bursting with game-changing talents at the receiver position. Jefferson rises above them all. He’s setting the new standard for what elite-level play looks like at receiver. Expectations will be heightened for Jefferson in 2023, who appears fully capable of continuing to write record books. Jefferson will eventually sign a record-breaking contract extension in Minnesota.
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