Vikings, Jefferson Contract Talks Growing More Complicated, Insider Says

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings and Justin Jefferson‘s contract negotiations are still on track, but closing a deal became more difficult this offseason, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported.

In his weekly column, Breer cast out the hysteria that followed a Pioneer Press report that the Vikings considered trading Jefferson and landing Malik Nabers as his replacement, saying that if that idea even surfaced in Minnesota, “it never got very far.”

However, it’s led to a sensitive juncture in the contract talks as the idea that Jefferson is expendable has polluted an otherwise positive atmosphere on the Vikings’ behalf.

Breer added that the development of the wide receiver market has made the floor of a potential deal even higher after Amon-Ra St. Brown and A.J. Brown signed extensions that bring their yearly earnings to over $30 million a season.

“That negotiation got more, not less, complicated with the Detroit Lions’ Amon-Ra St. Brown and Philadelphia Eagles’ A.J. Brown signing extensions, and it should not be ignored that Jefferson took on an extra year of injury risk after becoming eligible for a new deal and got hurt during that year,” Breer wrote.

The timeline to re-sign Jefferson remains intact as the Vikings tend to doll out megadeals in the summer months, however, the Vikings are seeing the repercussions of leaving the door open after coming “unbelievably close” to a deal before the start of the 2023 season.

“But for now, and really throughout, my feeling is that the Vikings’ plan has been to do what they need to do to keep Jefferson around long-term,” Breer added.

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson Looking Beyond a Top WR Contract

Justin Jefferson

GettyJustin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings.

While the floor for Jefferson’s deal may have climbed higher with Brown setting the bar at $32 million a season, Jefferson’s extension has never been about the wide receiver market.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah vocalized that Jefferson deserves to be paid as the top wide receiver in the league during his news conference at the NFL Scouting Combine.

However, when it comes to Jefferson being the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league, that’s where the negotiation begins.

Nick Bosa‘s extension last season awarded him a five-year, $170 million deal with an average per year of $34 million. Jefferson’s camp is likely looking to exceed that annual mark while there has been some speculation that may sign a shorter-term contract.

There’s also the idea floating that Jefferson would like a contract on par with some starting quarterbacks.

Outkick’s Armando Salguero, who covered the Miami Dolphins for three decades with the Miami Herald and also serves as Fox Sports’ senior NFL writer, reported on May 21 that Jefferson wants to break into the quarterback stratosphere when it comes to his next contract.

“As salaries for some non-quarterback positions rise, one source said Jefferson wants to be paid like some quarterbacks,” Salguero wrote. “At one point in the negotiation [with the Vikings], he wanted to reach the $40 million per year mark on an annual average, according to the source. It’s unclear if that is still where the talks are centered.

“Jefferson also wants to do a deal that includes fully guaranteed money that is at or close to $100 million, another source told OutKick,” Salguero added.

Why Justin Jefferson is Worth It

Justin Jefferson

GettyVikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson is eligible for a contract extension this offseason, which should spark a major change in the roster structure going forward.

While the receiver talent coming out of college is proving to be more ready to excel every year, Jefferson is an anomaly even among the greatest wide receivers in history.

Jefferson is a proven cheat code against any coverage, ranking among the top receivers against cover-1, cover-2 and cover-3 during the 2022 season.

His four straight 90-plus Pro Football Focus (PFF) offensive grades is a rarity since PFF started tracking in 2006. Only Julio Jones matches that streak of consistency.

Yes, receivers have breakout seasons, but few have been able to dominate every year once opposing defenses sell out to stop them.

Jefferson is rare in that sense. The Vikings should splurge on his deal that will span the duration of J.J. McCarthy‘s affordable rookie contract.