Justin Jefferson

Vikings’ Justin Jefferson Did Not Contemplate Sitting Out 2023 Season Following Hamstring Injury

This offseason’s Hard Knocks has generated a number of interesting details regarding the Giants. Similarly, Netflix’s Receiver series has offered a glimpse into Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson during his rehab from a 2023 hamstring injury.

Jefferson suffered the injury in Week 5, leading to a notable absence for the first time in his record-setting career. Questions were raised about how willing he would be to return to the field given the fact extension talks from the previous offseason had not made it across the finish line. The 25-year-old could have shut himself down for the remainder of the campaign, but instead he suited up in Week 14 and played each subsequent contest.

Of course, Jefferson’s contract status was coupled with Kirk Cousins‘ Achilles tear as a reason why a cautious approach by team and player would have been logical. Minnesota relied on multiple replacements at quarterback and wound up outside of the playoff picture. Jefferson had a strong close to the campaign after he ensured he returned to the field rather than turning his attention to renewed extension talks.

“No one, no one, no one in this game can ever tell me to not play or to tank the season or to do any of that other stuff because I’m not that type of person,” the LSU alum said (h/t ESPN’s Kevin Seifert). “I want to play. I love the game of football. I want to be the best. In order for that to happen, I’ve got to be out there on that field… There’s no prolonging the injury, there’s no, ‘Oh he’s sitting out because of the contract. It’s not any of that. At all.”

Following the draft, the Vikings turned down trade interest and finalized an historic extension with Jefferson. The 2022 Offensive Player of the Year is now attached to a $35MM AAV, the highest ever given to a non-quarterback. Obviously, he and Minnesota will hope a repeat of last season’s hamstring injury – which the series notes was a high grade strain – will not be in store over the years to come. The same is true of the bruised lung he suffered in his first game upon return.

Cousins departed in free agency, and the Vikings will have a tandem of Sam Darnold and first-round rookie J.J. McCarthy at quarterback in 2024. Jefferson will be counted on to remain the focal point of the team’s passing game as he serves as the financial standard-bearer amongst wideouts. If his approach to his health remains the same now that his extension is in place as it was before, Minnesota’s top offensive weapon should be available as much as possible.

Justin Jefferson Viewed Contract Situation Impacting Kirk Cousins’ Free Agency

Kirk Cousins has said he viewed the Vikings as using a year-by-year approach at quarterback during the latter part of his Minnesota run. The Vikings passed on extending Cousins in 2023 and then did not come especially close to the Falcons’ offer in March.

A move to Sam Darnold or J.J. McCarthy come Week 1 will mark a change for Minnesota, which has used Cousins as its starting quarterback to open each of the past six seasons. Cousins had said on many occasions he wanted to stay with the Vikings, but those comments died down this offseason. Falcons rumors emerged in early March and did not slow down, leading to the 13th-year QB’s four-year, $180MM deal — one that features a $100MM practical guarantee.

[RELATED: Offseason In Review: Minnesota Vikings]

The Vikings soon gave Darnold a one-year, $10MM deal and focused on a landmark Justin Jefferson extension. Given the money Cousins commanded from the Falcons, the Vikes — after already handing T.J. Hockenson a market-setting extension — would have experienced a difficult time extending Jefferson after re-signing their six-year passer. Jefferson knew this would factor into the Cousins conversation.

I always knew that Kirk was going to do whatever he needs to do for his businesses-wise,” Jefferson said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show (video link), “and I just knew that everything just wasn’t the way he wanted it to be here, especially just with having to pay me and having to pay so many other different guys.

“I feel like he just wanted a new start, a new opportunity to start with Atlanta and a clean slate, and I’m not mad at him at all for that. I’m grateful for what he has brought to me and the things that we have accomplished together.”

Via his practical guarantee, Cousins is on track to move his career earnings past $330MM. The former Washington fourth-rounder is certainly one of the shrewdest NFLers of his era and probably any era. Cousins maximized his value six years ago, maneuvering out of Washington after two franchise tags en route to a fully guaranteed $84MM Vikings contract. That three-year deal gave Cousins the upper hand in his ensuing negotiations with the team, leading to player-friendly extensions in 2020 and 2022. Guarantees held up the parties in 2023, and the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah-led front office let the veteran starter walk this year.

Jefferson signed a monster extension in June, committing to the Vikings on a four-year, $140MM deal that includes a whopping $110MM guaranteed. Both Jefferson’s guarantee and guarantee at signing ($88.7MM) shattered wide receiver records. Although the Vikings paid Jefferson despite a $28.5MM Cousins dead money hit due to void years, rivaling the Falcons’ offer and paying Jefferson would have been difficult. Jefferson’s $35MM-per-year extension will overlap with McCarthy’s rookie contract.

At the end of the day, it’s a business and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do for yourself and for your family, and I clearly understand that. But it’s on to the next,” Jefferson said. “It doesn’t really matter what quarterback it is in my eyes. I’m always going to try to make the best of the opportunity. I’m always going to try to be the quarterback’s friend and make his job a lot easier. It doesn’t matter if it was Kirk or if it’s Sam or if it’s J.J. I’m going to make it as easy as possible for him.”

Darnold will work with the starters to begin training camp, but the seventh-year veteran will eventually face a challenge from the No. 10 overall draftee. Cousins, 36 in August, now teams with two former top-10 skill-position draftees on rookie deals (Drake London, Kyle Pitts), and the Falcons brought in Darnell Mooney on a midlevel pact (three years, $39MM). Though, it is certainly possible that the Falcons pivot to first-rounder Michael Penix Jr. by the time those two are on veteran deals — if those extensions come to fruition in Atlanta.

Vikings Sought Longer-Term Justin Jefferson Extension

The booming wide receiver market has a new kingpin for the third time this offseason, but the position’s new financial pace-setter secured guarantee figures well north of the previous benchmarks. The Vikings are committed to Justin Jefferson, as their four-year, $140MM extension illustrates.

In guaranteeing the superstar wideout $110MM ($26MM north of the previous high) and fully guaranteeing him $88.7MM ($36MM higher than second place), the Vikings authorized player-friendly terms for a pass catcher on a stratospheric pace. Jefferson shattered Randy Moss‘ receiving yardage record through three seasons and managed a 1,074-yard showing despite missing seven games due to a hamstring injury.

The receiver market’s spike over the past three offseasons has brought a host of three- and four-year deals. Of the top 10 receiver contracts presently, only one (Davante Adams‘ Raiders pact) covered more than four years in length. (Though, Cooper Kupp‘s 2022 extension covered five seasons in total.) The Eagles’ recent A.J. Brown extension (three years, $96MM) brought a pivot point for the Vikings, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling, as the receiver’s camp pushed for a deal that would allow him a chance at another payday before age 30.

Obviously, on their side of it, they always want deal to be shorter: as much money as possible and shorter, and ours, longer,” Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said. “That [wide receiver] position has gotten shorter in terms, which is a unique dynamic in the market.”

Brown’s three-year deal, agreed to shortly before the draft, had set the AAV and guarantee standards at the position ($32MM, $84MM). The Vikings have been in talks with Jefferson since the 2023 offseason, proposing a deal just south of $30MM per year shortly before Week 1, but the Brown contract brought a short pause. This aligns with a Monday report that suggested the contract talks ramped up after the draft.

That same report pointed to multiple teams being prepared to offer multiple first-rounders for Jefferson and that the Vikes considered trading up (via the Chargers) to No. 5 for LSU’s Malik Nabers. The Bolts did not receive big offers, however, so it is unclear if a genuine consideration at rebooting around another rookie-deal wideout transpired on the Vikings’ part. No receiver has been traded for two first-round picks since 2000 (Joey Galloway, Keyshawn Johnson), but Adams fetching first- and second-round picks in 2022 would have made such a price logical for Jefferson, who turns 25 this month.

Adofo-Mensah pushed back on any notion of a trade, indicating the team had long committed to having the 2020 first-round pick tied to a second contract in Minnesota.

This day was going to come,” Adofo-Mensah said. “There was never a second in my mind that we weren’t going to be here. We obviously have to navigate challenges and things like that, but this was always our purpose. … At the end of the day, you want to pay premier players who can produce while making other people’s jobs easier. That can come a lot of different ways, at a lot of different positions.”

In addition to Jefferson preferring a shorter-term accord, SI.com’s Albert Breer notes his camp sought to avoid the backloaded structures present in the Adams and Tyreek Hill deals. The Raiders have nonguaranteed $35.6MM and $36.6MM 2025 and ’26 salaries in Adams’ contract, producing a $28MM AAV, while the Dolphins included a nonguaranteed $43.9MM 2026 salary for Hill to create the $30MM AAV figure.

Despite having three years left on his contract, the latter is already angling for an adjustment. Jefferson’s camp wanting no phony numbers in the contract makes sense, and his guarantees will certainly impact other teams’ negotiations with top wideouts.

While Jefferson stumped for another Kirk Cousins contract, the Vikings passed and are set to roll with a low-cost arrangement at the position. J.J. McCarthy‘s rookie deal will be key for the Vikings during this Jefferson pact, and the team has already begun Christian Darrisaw extension talks. As for the Vikes’ post-Cousins QB outlook, Breer notes their top receiver believes in Kevin O’Connell‘s ability to coax quality QB play. Jefferson’s belief in the third-year HC effectively mitigated concerns about how the team’s passing game would look after Cousins’ Falcons defection.

Though Jefferson will be set for a transition post-Cousins, he has secured his payday and is now working with the Vikings’ new QBs at minicamp this week.

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.

Vikings Ramped Up Justin Jefferson Talks After Draft; Teams Prepared Two-First-Rounder Trade Offers?

While the 2022 offseason featured a boom in the wide receiver market, it did not feature as many changeovers regarding the position’s highest salary as 2024 has brought. The top wideout salary benchmark has now moved three times since late April.

The Vikings are responsible for the biggest AAV vault at the position since the Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins payday in 2020, giving Justin Jefferson a four-year, $140MM extension that comes with a whopping $110MM guaranteed at $88.7M locked in at signing. In addition to the $35MM AAV being $3MM north of the closest WR’s number, Jefferson’s guarantees are on their own tier as well. The fifth-year Viking’s full guarantee number is $26MM higher than any other receiver’s; his $88.7MM full guarantee is a staggering $36MM higher than Tyreek Hill‘s previous market-topping figure. Like Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jaylen Waddle‘s recent deals, Jefferson will be protected on the guarantee front via year-out vesting.

The Vikes guaranteed $17.99MM of Jefferson’s 2026 base salary ($24.99MM) at signing; already guaranteed for injury, the other $7MM will become fully guaranteed in March 2025, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio notes. Jefferson will be due a $29.25MM base salary in 2027. A $14.26MM injury guarantee already covers the superstar wideout; that will shift to a full guarantee in March 2026. Jefferson’s 2028 base salary ($33.24MM) is nonguaranteed.

Despite the ’28 base being nonguaranteed, Jefferson’s camp did extraordinarily well on this contract — as the substantial leads on the guarantee front confirm. The two-time All-Pro did not need to agree to a lofty final-year figure to prop up the AAV, which was required for Hill and Davante Adams to eclipse Hopkins’ then-record salary in 2022. Hill is angling for an update to his through-2026 contract, one that includes a phony $43.9MM 2026 base salary that almost definitely will not be paid out.

The Vikings used a dual bonus structure (signing and option) in Jefferson’s contract, per OverTheCap, and included a void year (2029). Void years became a thorny issue for this Vikings regime, with both Dalvin Tomlinson and Kirk Cousins tagging the club with notable dead money hits (Cousins’ went to $28.5MM) due to void years. This void structure, however, would only bring a $6MM dead cap hit if Jefferson departed as a free agent in 2029. The Vikings will keep Jefferson cap hits below $16MM in 2024 and ’25, but his 2026 number shoots to $38.98MM.

Negotiations between the Vikings and Jefferson did not intensify until after the draft, Florio adds. Rumblings about Minnesota being interested in trading up to No. 5 for Malik Nabers emerged, though concrete details about that potential effort remain elusive. GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been resolute on a Jefferson extension since early in the 2023 offseason; a trade/Nabers-centered reboot would have been borderline shocking.

The Vikings were connected to moving up for a quarterback, which they eventually did by trading from No. 11 to No. 10 (via the Jets). However, Minnesota had acquired an additional first-round pick from Houston (No. 23). This was viewed as a weapon in QB bidding, but with none of the passers beyond Drake Maye drawing extensive trade interest, the Vikings did not need to give up much to climb to No. 10 for J.J. McCarthy.

Minnesota attempted to acquire the No. 3 overall pick from New England, eyeing Maye. The Vikes’ proposal included their 2025 first-round pick, along with mid-round Pats picks going back to Minnesota in the swap. The Maye effort failing could have conceivably prompted the Vikings to try to acquire both Nabers and McCarthy, though that would have been a complex blueprint to complete. They soon focused on just the quarterback, eventually using the No. 23 pick to trade up for Dallas Turner at No. 17.

It would have been surprising but understandable had the Vikings entertained trade offers for Jefferson before and during the draft, given the price point here. The team traded Stefon Diggs in 2020 (and succeeded in replacing him with Jefferson) and unloaded both Percy Harvin (2013) and Randy Moss (2005). Jefferson far outproduced Diggs on his rookie contract, shattering Moss’ NFL record for receiving yardage through three seasons (4,825). The former LSU standout also surpassed 1,000 yards (1,074) last season despite missing seven games due to a hamstring injury.

Had the Vikings been serious about Jefferson trades, Florio adds multiple teams were prepared to offer multiple first-rounders. With Diggs, Hill, Adams and A.J. Brown drawing first-rounders and then other picks in deals earlier this decade, the Vikings certainly carried an interesting chip.

That said, a two-first-rounder offer actually emerging would have been fascinating. Hill, Diggs and Brown did not draw any Day 2 compensation in addition to the first-rounders in those deals. Adams fetched first- and second-rounders. Another team sending the Vikings two first-rounders and then giving Jefferson a record-smashing extension would have depleted resources on multiple fronts, though a star wideout going into his age-25 season is obviously valuable as well.

The Cowboys and Buccaneers traded two first-round picks for wideouts (Joey Galloway, Keyshawn Johnson), but both those blockbusters occurred back in 2000. No team has forked over two first-rounders for a wide receiver since. It would obviously be interesting to learn which current teams were considering a two-first-rounder offer for Jefferson.

Rather than move Jefferson to avoid new financial territory at wide receiver, Minnesota will pair this lucrative contract with McCarthy’s rookie deal, which he must remain tied to through at least 2026. Players like CeeDee Lamb and Ja’Marr Chase will certainly attempt to use Jefferson’s deal as a springboard, and it will be worth monitoring to see how teams navigate big-ticket WR extensions following this monster Minnesota agreement. Even if Lamb and Chase do not eclipse the Jefferson numbers, the Vikings’ deal will impact those respective talks.

Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals Extension Talks In “Holding Pattern”

As the Bengals navigate the Tee Higgins situation, they have another star wideout who’s awaiting some financial security. Ja’Marr Chase is now eligible for an extension, and when the Bengals opened their organized team activities on Tuesday, the receiver was not in attendance.

[RELATED: WR Ja’Marr Chase Not At Bengals’ OTAs]

While Chase’s absence is surely connected to his contract situation, it sounds like Cincy’s hands are currently tied. As ESPN’s Ben Baby points out, Chase and the Bengals are “in a holding pattern” while both sides await Justin Jefferson‘s inevitable extension with the Vikings. As Baby notes, even before Chase was eligible for an extension, the wideout was pointing to Jefferson’s impending deal. The Bengals have continued to make it clear that signing Chase is a priority for the organization, so it’s more a matter of when than if Chase signs a deal.

There isn’t as much urgency in Cincinnati as there is in Minnesota. Jefferson is heading into the final season of his rookie deal, so the Vikings would have to play the franchise-tag game if the two sides can’t hammer out an extension. After predictably having his fifth-year option picked up, Chase still has two years remaining on his rookie contract, so he has the luxury of seeing how negotiations unfold with his former LSU teammate.

Chase, Jefferson, and Cowboys star receiver CeeDee Lamb will be looking to reset the wide receiver market. Amon-Ra St. Brown and A.J. Brown‘s recent extensions pushed that value past a $30MM average annual value. Brown currently paces the position in AAV ($32MM) and total guarantees ($84MM), two marks that will surely be pushed down the list once that aforementioned trio inks their next contracts.

Considering the front office’s commitment to Joe Burrow, Chase’s next deal will further limit the organization’s ability to spend. We’re already seeing this upcoming extension’s influence on the Bengals’ handling of Higgins, so some cost certainty could go a long way for the front office.

Vikings’ Justin Jefferson Seeking To Become NFL’s Highest-Paid Non-QB?

Justin Jefferson is one of several high-profile players currently absent from OTAs in the NFL. Missing out on voluntary workouts, the 2023 Offensive Player of the Year is in talks with the Vikings on a monster extension.

Jefferson is a strong candidate to become the league’s top earner at the receiver position. Given his age (24) and the historic start to his career, however, that may not be the bar he is aiming for. Outkick’s Armando Salguero reports Jefferson is “expecting” to surpass Nick Bosa as the league’s highest-paid non-quarterback.

Bosa’s 49ers deal, signed last offseason, carries an AAV of $34MM. That figure comfortably moved him to the top of the pecking order amongst defenders (although Chris Jones is now not far behind) and it surpassed the top of the receiver market at the time. Tyreek Hill‘s $30MM-per-season Dolphins contract has been eclipsed recently by new deals for Amon-Ra St. Brown (Lions) and A.J. Brown (Eagles).

The latter pact is worth an average of $32MM per season, and it therefore represents the new target for Jefferson and other extension-eligible wideouts. Salguero notes Jefferson has already turned down one offer which would have allowed him to top the receiver market, but that was before Brown’s deal was signed. Talks with the Vikings nearly produced an agreement last offseason, but instead the LSU alum remains on track for free agency next year as things stand. Jefferson is set to earn $19.74MM in 2024 on his fifth-year option.

A multi-year pact will check in at a much larger rate, although particular figures regarding AAV are not known at this point in negotiations. Salguero adds the three-time Pro Bowler was previously seeking $40MM annually, but that may no longer be the case. That figure matches the AAV of the contracts quarterbacks Daniel Jones, Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott are presently attached to.

With respect to guaranteed compensation, Salguero reports Jefferson is aiming for roughly $100MM on his next deal. Only eight contracts in the league are at that mark in terms of total guarantees; all of them, unsurprisingly, belong to quarterbacks. It will be interesting to see if Jefferson manages to reach (or at least approach) his asking price in terms of total and guaranteed money.

Minnesota has a cost-effective quarterback room with Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy positioned to replace Kirk Cousins in the short and long term. The team’s skill position group features one expensive pact (tight end T.J. Hockenson), but wideout Jordan Addison will be attached to his rookie contract for at least the next three years. An expensive new deal for left tackle Christian Darrisaw will likely be on the Vikings’ books down the road, but it will pale in comparison to the one Jefferson will have if talks can produce a market-topping agreement.

Justin Jefferson Absent From Vikings’ OTAs

CeeDee Lamb has elected to stay away from the Cowboys in the absence of a long-term extension being worked out. The same remains true in the case of Justin Jeffersonanother wideout looking to approach or reach the top of his position’s market.

Jefferson is absent from the Vikings as their organized team activities begin, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The 2022 Offensive Player of the Year also skipped out on the beginning of Minnesota’s offseason program last month, so today’s update does not represent a surprise. Jefferson’s decision comes as extension talks are ongoing.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said earlier this offseason that the sides came close to an agreement last year. Negotiations were ultimately put on hold, though, and they briefly resumed resumed after the close of the 2023 campaign. With attention turning to the draft, the team temporarily pressed pause for a time, but the focus is once again on hammering out a lucrative pact.

Jefferson had the most productive three-year start to a career in NFL history, giving him a strong case to sign the league’s most valuable receiver pact. The 24-year-old was limited to 10 games in 2024 due to a hamstring injury, though he still managed to post a 68-1,074-5 statline. Kirk Cousins is no longer Minnesota’s quarterback, with Sam Darnold in place as a bridge option and first-rounder J.J. McCarthy positioned to take over as a starter down the road.

Both of those signal-callers carry plenty of question marks relative to Cousins, but Jefferson will still be counted on to produce among the league’s top playmakers moving forward. The three-time Pro Bowler is due $19.74MM in 2024 as he is set to play out his fifth-year option. A franchise tag could be an option for the following year, but a multi-year investment at a much larger rate remains a matter of mutual interest.

Tyreek Hill‘s $30MM-per-year Dolphins pact has been surpassed as the top receiver deal in terms of annual compensation. Both Amon-Ra St. Brown (Lions) and A.J. Brown (Eagles) have eclipsed that figure on mega-pacts of their own, with the latter’s checking in at $32MM per season with $51MM fully guaranteed at signing. Jefferson, along with Lamb and Bengals standout Ja’Marr Chase, is in line to parlay his production into a similar contract. It will be interesting to see if traction is gained between he and the Vikings in the near future.

Vikings GM On Justin Jefferson Extension Talks

The Vikings have a new franchise passer on the roster, and now that the 2024 draft is in the books, they can turn their focus back to an extension for perhaps the best wide receiver in the league. Minnesota and three-time Pro Bowler Justin Jefferson tabled their contract negotiations during draft weekend, but as GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made plain, that pause had nothing to do with a breakdown in the talks themselves.

“We continue to have great dialogue with [Jefferson’s] representatives,” Adofo-Mensah said (via ESPN’s Kevin Seifert). “The process is still ongoing. We did say, ‘Hey, [let’s pause] a couple days.’ The draft’s coming. The [agents] have players they represent. We have our process.”

In addition to noting that the two sides continue to make progress, Adofo-Mensah also said that when (not if) an agreement is reached, it will be cause for celebration that should not be overshadowed by other matters like the draft.

“Either way, whenever we sign him, we want Justin to have his whole week,” the GM said. “You know that friend that has a birthday that takes the month? I think Justin would deserve his whole month if we signed a contract to celebrate it. We’re excited to work towards it. We’re going to keep going. You can’t have all these plans when you talk about all these visions and not talk about the king linchpin, so we’re going to keep working toward that end goal.”

Jefferson, who is entering his age-25 season, was not present to start the Vikings’ offseason program as he continues to seek his mega-deal, although he did not participate in the club’s voluntary work last year either (he did attend the mandatory minicamp). Both the Eagles’ A.J. Brown and the Lions’ Amon-Ra St. Brown have inked extensions of their own over the past several days, deals that place those players at the very top of the ever-booming WR market in terms of both average annual value and total guarantees.

Brown now holds the wide receiver record for AAV ($32MM) and guaranteed money ($84MM), and Jefferson will surely be aiming to meet or top those figures. Despite the hamstring injury that kept him off the field for much of the 2023 season, the LSU product’s youth, importance to his club, and accomplishments to date give him plenty of ammunition in that regard.

After player and team got “unbelievably close” to reaching an extension last offseason, there is optimism that they may soon push this matter over the finish line.

Justin Jefferson Not Present To Start Vikings’ Offseason Program

Offseason programs do not shift to the mandatory attendance portion until near their conclusion, with minicamps residing on teams’ calendars in June. But this week will bring a minor chapter in a few contract sagas. Justin Jefferson‘s status with the Vikings is among them.

Jefferson did not report to the first day of the Vikings’ offseason program Monday. It should be noted Jefferson did not show for Vikings voluntary work last year but reported for minicamp. The sides engaged in extension talks leading up to the season, falling just short, and remain without a resolution. The Vikings have Jefferson tied to a $19.74MM fifth-year option, which is fully guaranteed.

[RELATED: Vikings To Not Intend To Trade Justin Jefferson]

I’ve had a lot of great dialogue with Justin throughout even the early part of this offseason and leading up,” Kevin O’Connell said, via KTSP in Minnesota. “My hope is we can get him around the team. Obviously such a special player, but it goes beyond that this time of year because of just the energy and flat-out way he goes to work.”

Although Jefferson suffered a hamstring injury that kept him off the field for much of last season, the three-time All-Pro remains on track to secure a market-resetting extension. CeeDee Lamb and Amon-Ra St. Brown also being on the extension radar provides a bit of a complication, as Jefferson has accomplished more than his NFC peers. It is understandable the 2020 first-round pick will want to be the NFL’s highest-paid receiver. Tyreek Hill, thanks to a contract that features a lofty nonguaranteed 2026 season to up the AAV, remains in that spot (at $30MM per year). Jefferson, 24, has confirmed he wants to land his big-money deal with the Vikings.

Not showing up at the Vikes’ Eagan, Minn., facility until minicamp this offseason will be a bit different than his 2023 absence. The Vikings have a new quarterback, after six Kirk Cousins seasons, and Sam Darnold will likely be joined by a first-round pick when the team convenes for post-draft workouts. Jefferson working with the Vikes’ post-Cousins QBs would stand to benefit all parties. But this is part of negotiating playbooks; with no resolution in sight, Jefferson may well opt to stay away for a while. No fines can come his way until minicamp.

The Vikings have a history of authorizing wide receiver extensions and then trading the player, as they did with Randy Moss (extended in 2001, traded in 2005) and Stefon Diggs (extended in 2018, dealt in 2020). They also moved Percy Harvin, who signed his second contract with the Seahawks. Jefferson’s early years place him on a plane with Moss and few others throughout NFL history. The Vikings have, however, paid T.J. Hockenson at a top-market rate. Once Cousins’ dead money ($28.5MM) comes off their books in 2025, the Vikes — with Darnold on a one-year deal and the to-be-determined rookie (in all likelihood) tied to a cost-controlled deal for at least three years — also have a clearer runway for a Jefferson deal.

The prospect of how much more it will take compared to Miami’s Hill contract will be a component in Minnesota’s Jefferson talks. The second year of Jefferson extension eligibility has not reached a key juncture, but that point will arrive before the season starts.