Vikings’ Justin Jefferson Projected to Smash NFL Record With New Deal

Justin Jefferson, Vikings

Getty Wide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates on the field after defeating the New England Patriots during an NFL game in November 2022.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson may have to wait a little longer, but he is on track to sign a historic contract extension sooner than later.

The Vikings pushed the massive bill for Jefferson’s new deal down the road a ways in April by exercising their fifth-year team option on the wideout’s rookie deal, which is the collectively-bargained prerogative of NFL franchises when it comes to first-round picks. Jefferson now stands to earn $3.3 million next season and $19.7 million in 2024, per Spotrac.

A contract extension for Jefferson is expected come at some point before or during next offseason. The exact amount of that deal is hard to predict, though given a recent spike in receiver salaries the total should be substantial. Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report on Wednesday, May 10, projected that Minnesota will ink the three-time Pro Bowler to a six-year deal worth $190 million, with $97.5 million guaranteed.

Justin Jefferson Predicted to Surpass Monster Contracts For Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill

GettyWide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after a play against the New England Patriots in November 2022.

If Davenport is correct, Jefferson’s coming extension will make him the richest pass-catcher in NFL history based on overall contract value and annual salary ($31.67 million per season).

Davante Adams signed a five-year, $140 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022, with a total of $65.67 million guaranteed. That was the most lucrative contract for a wideout in league history until the Kansas City Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins later in the offseason, after which Hill signed a four-year extension worth $120 million that included $72.2 million in guaranteed money.

Davenport laid out his argument for the Vikings going well above and beyond both of those contracts for Jefferson, who will play next season at the age of 24. He also noted, however, that there could be a couple of hiccups to navigate along the path to an agreement.

Since entering the NFL in 2020, Jefferson has more receiving yards than any wideout in the game. In fact, he has more receiving yards over his first three seasons than any player at the position in the history of the NFL.

However, potential sticking points exist regarding a new deal for Jefferson. … Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have less cap space than the Vikings. Minnesota could back-load an extension to lessen the short-term impact, but it would take a five- or six-year deal to really make that work.

There’s also the matter of Kirk Cousins‘ future in Minnesota. The 34-year-old is entering the last year of his contract. If he’s brought back, it’s going to cost at least $40 million per season. If he isn’t, the Vikings will have to figure out a future under center — and sell their star wideout on it.

Vikings Building Young Wide Receiver Room Around Justin Jefferson

Adam Thielen

Getty ImagesMinnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (left) celebrates a play with fellow wideout and former teammate Adam Thielen (right) during an NFL game.

The Vikings needed to trim salary all over the roster this offseason, though one of the earliest cap casualties was veteran wideout and hometown hero Adam Thielen.

After moving Thielen’s deal off the books, Minnesota used the No. 23 overall pick in the NFL Draft to select Jordan Addison out of USC. He now joins a receiver room headlined by Jefferson and last year’s third option, K.J. Osborn.

The Vikings drafted Osborn in the fifth round in 2020, the same year they selected Jefferson in the first round. Minnesota has no fifth-year team option on Osborn’s deal, meaning he is bound for free agency next spring if the team doesn’t work out an extension for him before then.

Osborn has proven himself an NFL-caliber wideout and then some, amassing 110 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns over the previous two seasons, per Pro Football Reference. Thielen said this week that Osborn has the potential to be a No. 1 receiver somewhere in the league in the future.

If the Vikings do extend Jefferson, which appears almost an inevitability within the next year or so, Osborn will never get the chance to be the go-to guy in Minnesota. And with Addison coming in on a rookie contract to compete for the No. 2 job, Osborn could end up a productive luxury that the Vikings simply can’t afford come next offseason.

The Vikings’ aforementioned quarterback conundrum could play out several ways, but if the team lands on any proven performer who isn’t still playing on a rookie deal, the chances are Minnesota can’t pay Osborn what he wants and/or what he’s worth. In that case, the Vikings’ best path forward will probably be to go even younger and less expensive in the wide receiver room via the draft, especially considering what is likely to be historic money heading Jefferson’s way.

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