Vikings, WR Justin Jefferson Agree To Deal

The Justin Jefferson contract saga has come to a close. The Vikings have a deal in place for the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year in place, and it will meet his goal of becoming the league’s highest earner amongst non-quarterbacks.

Jefferson has reached agreement on a four-year, $140MM extension, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network report. The monster deal includes $110MM guaranteed and once again resets the top of the receiver market. He will see just under $89MM locked in at signing, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter; that figure further puts Jefferson in a tier of his own. The 24-year-old is now under contract through 2028. Minnesota has since announced the move.

[RELATED: Teams Prepared Two-First-Rounder Offers For Jefferson?]

Team and player came close to an agreement last offseason, but talks were put on hold during the 2023 campaign. Jefferson missed seven games due to a hamstring injury, but to little surprise that ailment did not hinder his bargaining power. Schefter reports the three-time Pro Bowler turned down an offer carrying an average annual value of more than $28MM last summer. Now, Jefferson has a deal in place worth $35MM per year.

Like many other players angling for new deals, the LSU alum – who was set to play out his $19.74MM fifth-year option in 2024 – stayed away from voluntary OTAs. Minnesota had plenty of time to continue negotiations even after a brief pause during the draft considering the team’s intentions of retaining him for the long term. Schefter adds that multiple teams made trade inquiries about Jefferson this offseason, each of which were emphatically shot down.

An historic start in terms of production has led to one first-team All-Pro nod and a pair of second-team selections early in his career. Jefferson’s statistical output – 5,899 yards, 30 touchdowns in 60 games – gave him considerable leverage to not only move to the top of the pecking order at the WR position but surpass Nick Bosa‘s 2023 49ers extension in terms of raising the bar for non-quarterbacks. Bosa’s then-record breaking extension is worth $34MM per season, and Jefferson has managed to outpace it on this pact.

The 2024 offseason has seen plenty of big-ticket deals signed at the receiver spot, and the $30MM-per-year threshold was surpassed by both Amon-Ra St. Brown and A.J. Brown on their respective deals. The expectation remained that Jefferson, along with CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys) and Ja’Marr Chase (Bengals) would represent a tier of their own with respect to value, with each standout waiting for the others to sign to gauge the market. Jefferson has become the first member of that trio to put pen to paper, and Lamb and Chase will no doubt look to use today’s agreement as a new benchmark.

Minnesota’s offense will look much different in 2024 given Kirk Cousins‘ free agent departure. Sam Darnold was added as a short-term replacement, inking a one-year, $10MM deal. As expected, the Vikings then used their top draft pick on a signal-caller by selecting J.J. McCarthy 10th overall. The latter represents the team’s QB of the future, although questions have been raised about his NFL viability given his age and lack of usage in the passing game at Michigan. Having Jefferson in place will obviously help McCarthy acclimate to the pro game when he takes on starting duties.

The Vikings also have Jordan Addison attached to his rookie deal for at least the next three years (or four, if his fifth-year option gets picked up). Minnesota’s skill-position corps includes tight end T.J. Hockenson, who inked a $16.5MM-per-year extension last offseason to move him near the top of the market at his position. Regardless of the level of quarterback play the team sees moving forward, expectations will be high in the passing game given the investments made amongst pass-catchers.

Jefferson will remain a focal point in that respect for the foreseeable future. His ability to remain an elite producer with new signal-callers in place will be worth watching closely, as will the domino effect this deal generates amongst other extension-eligible wideouts.

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