While the Minnesota Vikings are enjoying their best start since 2009, major decisions are on the horizon for the new regime — the highest priority making Justin Jefferson the highest-paid receiver in the league.
Jefferson, who is eligible for a contract extension this upcoming offseason, is running up his NFL record for the most receiving yards by a player in his first three seasons and will be looking for his payday in the offseason.
That will come at a steep price with the wide receiver market exploding in the past few years.
Justin Jefferson Expected to Sign for North of $150 Million
Hill, 28, chased the money and secured a four-year, $120 million contract with $72 million guaranteed. It’s paid dividends for both sides as the Dolphins have transformed their offense and Hill leading the league with 1,233 receiving yards through 11 games this season.
Jefferson is hot on Hill’s tail, posting 1,232 receiving yards this season — a mere one-yard difference with the league’s highest-paid receiver. Jefferson should overtake that title this offseason.
Pioneer Press columnist Charley Walters projected that Jefferson, 23, is expected to secure a five-year deal worth over $150 million with over $75 million guaranteed. A deal of that magnitude shows a shift in how players are seeing more guaranteed money in their contracts, which could be a strong negotiating point this offseason.
Vikings to Make History With Justin Jefferson’s Contract
With wide receiver contracts skyrocketing in recent years, the ceiling appears to have been reached with the position beginning to see paydays on par with quarterbacks.
Minnesota will have to front that bill for Jefferson, however, the Vikings could also take a page out of their own playbook and make history another way — offering Jefferson the first fully guaranteed contract at his position, much like they did with Kirk Cousins back in 2018.
In the offseason, Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated spoke with three agents around the league about what they expect the market to bear for Jefferson. One agent said between $28 million and $30 million per year. A second agent said $30 million to $32 million annually but added the number wasn’t likely to climb much higher.
That leads to the third agent’s prediction, that receivers may have hit their ceiling and the next step is to start offering more guaranteed earnings in receiver contracts.
“We are asking the wrong question,” the agent told Orr. “It’s not necessarily about the AAV (average annual value) when it comes to wide receivers, and it’s more about a period we may be entering when receivers, like quarterbacks, can start to inch closer to fully guaranteed contracts.”
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp realized a nearly fully guaranteed deal last offseason, earning a three-year, $80 million extension with $75 million guaranteed, after leading the Rams to a Super Bowl and the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Jefferson will undoubtedly want more than the $26.7 million average annual value of Kupp’s contract, however, he could be willing to take a slightly smaller deal if Minnesota can offer full guarantees.