Justin Jefferson Gets Honest About Kirk Cousins’ Exit, Vikings QBs

Justin Jefferson, Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings and Kirk Cousins #8 of the Atlanta Falcons.

Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson is confident. He would be the same player regardless of who his QB was in 2024 during Super Bowl week.

The Vikings faced the prospect of losing Kirk Cousins in free agency, which ultimately turned into reality as the four-time Pro Bowler inked a four-year, $108 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

Jefferson says he could see the writing on the wall for the former Vikings QB.

“I always knew Kirk was going to do whatever he needs to do … business-wise,” Jefferson told Rich Eisen on “The Rich Eisen Show” on July 9. “And I just knew that everything just wasn’t the way he wanted it to be here and, 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.

“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. But at the end of the day, it’s a business and you got to do what you got to do for yourself and for your family and I clearly understand that.”

Cousins praised the Vikings for his entire tenure during an interview on the “Bussin With The Boys” podcast in May. He also pointed to the structure of their offers as a sticking point.

He struck a deal with the Falcons shortly after free agency began on March 11.

“It’s on to the next,” Jefferson told Eisen. “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. So it doesn’t matter if it was Kirk, or if it’s Sam [Darnold], or if it’s J.J. [McCarthy]. I’m going to make it as easy as possible for him.”

Jefferson discussed the upcoming Netflix show “Receiver,” a spinoff of the network’s popular “Quarterback” program. The show will show Jefferson’s bout with a hamstring injury that cost him seven weeks in 2023.

He notably had 503 yards and two scores on 32 receptions in five games without Cousins after returning.

Justin Jefferson Vikings ‘Needed’ Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold, Minnesota Vikings

GettySam Darnold #14 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings signed Darnold to a one-year, $10 million contract in free agency, and Head Coach Kevin O’Connell named him the starter going into training camp.

Darnold made a strong impression on Jefferson.

“I feel like Sam is doing a great job with just communicating and just connecting with the players. He understands that he’s the new guy, we have to bond with him, and we have to create that connection and that chemistry with him,” Jefferson said.

“He’s definitely – and he’s an older guy. It’s not like he’s new into the league. So he kind of knows how to socialize, how to talk, how to communicate with us. Not only just about football but just in general. Just talking about different things; just like how me and Kirk used to do. But to have Sam in there – more, of a veteran, older mindset – to have J.J. come in and kind of learn from him as well, it’s definitely something that we needed. And I think will be great for J.J. as well.”

Darnold spent last season with the San Francisco 49ers backing up Brock Purdy. But he went 4-2 as the Carolina Panthers’ starter over the final six weeks of the 2022 season.

Justin Jefferson: J.J. McCarthy Wants to ‘Become a Problem’ for NFL

J.J. McCarthy, Minnesota Vikings

GettyJ.J. McCarthy #9 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings traded up in the first round of the 2024 draft to select McCarthy. At some point, they surely hope to hand the offensive reins over to him.

Until then, he is absorbing as much as he can Jefferson says.

“I like J.J. He’s definitely learning, he’s definitely trying to learn and definitely asking questions,” Jefferson said. “They put J.J.’s locker right next to mine just like how they did Kirk, so I already know their mindset and how they want things to go. They want me to be that guy that J.J. can always talk to and ask questions about.

“He’s definitely that type of kid. He definitely wants to ask questions, he wants to learn how to become a top quarterback. He wants to learn how to become a problem in this league, and he’s consistently asking me different questions.”

Jefferson said he told McCarthy to focus on carrying himself with confidence and learning the Vikings’ playbook.

“I love his attitude, I love his questioning and his curiosity to want to become something. So I’m definitely looking forward to what he has to bring to our team. Of course, there’s a lot of expectations from him. But I always tell him, ‘Don’t really worry about the expectations. All you have to do is just carry yourself with confidence,’” Jefferson said.

“I feel like he’s just trying to learn the playbook, and he’s just like all of us at the time. His head is just running 1,000 miles per hour with trying to learn his playbook and trying to be comfortable with just being in the pocket and just being free back there.”

Jefferson compared it to studying for a “big test,” but he expressed high hopes for McCarthy.

“We gotta get a ring together in the league,” Jefferson told Eisen after the latter pointed to the teammates’ common ground as national champions in college.