Yes, OTAs are “voluntary.” However, if a player is in good standing or trying to win over the team and make the roster, they’ll be there.
As the calendar has turned to June, a decision should come soon for Jefferson who could incur fines if he does not attend mandatory minicamps on June 13 and June 14. The Vikings hope to secure Jefferson to a long-term extension by then with decisions coming on Cook and Hunter.
Former WCCO sports director Mark Rosen cautioned fans that something could shake up with Jefferson soon with June upon us.
“Keep your eye on what’s going on with Justin Jefferson the next 48 hours,” Rosen said during a May 31 edition of the Power Trip Morning Show on KFAN.
Asked if it is good news, Rosen said, “Let’s hope so.”
Jefferson is in line to become the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL after leading the league with 1,809 receiving yards and winning Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Why Dalvin Cook, Danielle Hunter Impact Vikings’ Contract Talks With Justin Jefferson
Jefferson’s contract isn’t just any deal. Likely to be the largest contract since Adrian Peterson’s prime, Jefferson’s deal will set the precedent for how Minnesota will build its roster for the rest of this decade.
While the Vikings should be willing to make Jefferson the highest-paid player at his position with a historic contract, the structure of the deal will be tantamount to building a successful roster around Jefferson for years to come.
Ideally, the Vikings would like to give Jefferson some cash up front, and that involves creating more cap space with Cook and Hunter’s futures in question.
Cook has held out from all team activities amid a contract dispute. The Vikings can save at least $9 million by cutting or trading Cook after June 1. However, approaching the pivotal June 1 deadline where a player’s future bonuses are pushed onto the following years books, the narrative around Cook’s future has also changed with whispers of him possibly taking a pay cut beginning to surface.
Hunter is in line for a contract extension after his deal had been reworked several times. He carries just a $4.9 base salary that ranks 25th at his position after coming off a season where he tied for the sixth-most pressures (70), per Pro Football Focus.
However Hunter and Cook’s situations play out will impact how the Vikings can structure the early years of Jefferson’s deal.
‘No Bad Blood’ Between Vikings and Justin Jefferson
Jefferson’s absence from OTAs could not go unreported, however, it hasn’t ruffled many feathers in the organization.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on May 30 that Jefferson has remained in close contact with the team despite his absence, which could in part be because of the ongoing contract dealings.
“I’m told that he’s away from the team right now but that’s no a major concern. He’s expected back for minicamp,” Fowler said. “It’s possible he’s away from OTAs because of the contract but I don’t think that’s been spelled out. I’m told he’s been in contact with the team, so there’s definitely no bad blood. They’re in a really good spot.”