A push was made by the Vikings to work out an extension with Justin Jefferson, but they have come up short. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year will play the 2023 season without a new deal in place, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Schefter adds that both the Vikings and the All-Pro wideout made an effort to reach agreement on a mega-contract in time for tomorrow’s season opener, but nothing is expected to be signed in the next few hours. As a result, the parties will press pause on negotiations until after the campaign is over. Jefferson will thus earn $2.39MM in salary this season in anticipation of a dramatic raise in the spring.
The 24-year-old was the subject of a late-summer push on Minnesota’s part to get a deal worked out in time for Week 1. That news followed a lengthy stretch without updates on the status of negotiations, and it confirmed the team’s willingness to make Jefferson a central part of their long-term plans. His personal preference was to have an agreement in place by Sunday, but he will now shift his attention to another hugely productive season in line with the three has had authored so far.
Jefferson comfortably holds the record for most receiving yards in the first three seasons of a player’s career (4,825), meaning his second contract will be enormous. The matter of injury guarantees (and their scheduling within the pact) were mentioned earlier this offseason as a potential issue, but it is unclear at this point what caused the failure for a deal to be reached.
Minnesota’s financial outlook looks much different moving forward after an offseason filled with a number of veteran departures. Jefferson is part of a young core the team will look to invest in – as it did recently with the extension for tight end T.J. Hockenson. Plenty of questions regarding the Vikings’ spending power in 2024 and beyond will be answered when clarity emerges regarding quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ future. The latter is set to hit free agency after the season, and Minnesota does not have a long-term successor in place at the moment.
Waiting until the conclusion of Year 4 to sign a new pact can be a risky proposition for players, but those at the top of their positional markets can ensure a major payday while remaining successful from an individual and team perspective. Nick Bosa‘s record-breaking deal for defensive players was signed just before his fifth season began, providing an example of patience (and in Bosa’s case, a training camp holdout) paying off. The lengths Jefferson will go to next spring if negotiations hit a snag upon resumption will make his situation worth watching closely.