Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Breaks Silence on Justin Jefferson Contract Drama

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings.

Since Minnesota Vikings superstar Justin Jefferson became eligible for a contract extension, there have been seeds sowed to signal any sort of displeasure coming from his camp amid a full year of contract talks.

The perennial NFL news cycle sparked speculation of Jefferson’s frustration by not attending the first day of voluntary workouts on April 15.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell pushed back against any notion that there is a growing divide between Jefferson and the Vikings.

“I’ve had a lot of great dialogue with Justin throughout even the early part of this offseason. My hope is we can get him get him around the team,” O’Connell said during an April 15 news conference. “He’s obviously such a special player, but it goes beyond that, especially this time of year, because the energy: when he’s in this building, he goes to work and how teammates respond to him. … want him here as much as we can have him, but I also understand there’s a lot of factors involved.”

Jefferson’s absence from team activities is a common move star players with ongoing contract negotiations make to put pressure on organizations. He also skipped voluntary workouts last year but attended mandatory minicamps and training camp.

Jefferson is poised to become the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL — but the Vikings typically award these kinds of extensions in the summertime either before training camp or the regular season.

However, until Jefferson shows face, O’Connell must keep answering for the Vikings’ most valuable player’s absence.

“There’s nobody I love having more around on a daily basis just because how he elevates others — truly, you know, special, special player,” O’Connell added.

Vikings’ Decision at QB Will Determine Justin Jefferson’s Contract Terms

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

GettyGeneral Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for the Vikings who are set to select a quarterback in the first round of this year’s draft.

Acquiring an additional first-round pick in a trade with the Houston Texans, the Vikings have the draft capital to make an aggressive move up the board and land a top prospect.

However, there’s also the potential to stay up and take one of the top quarterbacks who fall outside the top five picks. That would lighten the cost of moving up and allow the Vikings to retain draft capital to reinforce their roster.

Whichever decision the Vikings make, Jefferson should be in lockstep of their decision-making to bolster his confidence in the decision.

If he is not satisfied with the Vikings’ future at quarterback, he may prefer a shorter-term deal to allow him to reach free agency still in his prime.

Justin Jefferson’s Contract Projection Exceeds $30 Million a Year

Kevin O'Connell and Justin Jefferson

GettyVikings coach Kevin O’Connell addressed Justin Jefferson’s contract drama after the star receiver skipped the first day of voluntary workouts on April 15, 2024.

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah touted that his front office and Jefferson’s camp came in “unbelievably close” to striking a deal before the start of the 2023 season.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on “NFL Live” that Jefferson turned down a deal “in excess of $30 million” in March, signaling that will be at bare minimum the benchmark for his finalized contract.

The Vikings are likely pushing for at least a four-year deal, while Jefferson’s camp must weigh their optimism in the quarterback decision.

Jefferson, who turns 25 in June, may want a short-term deal regardless of the quarterback situation. If he takes a three-year contract instead, he could reach free agency still in his prime at 28 years old.