Kevin O’Connell Gets Honest About Justin Jefferson Amid Stalemate With Vikings

Kevin O'Connell, Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings have a deadline.

July 31 is a key date for the Vikings in terms of how they have configured the roster bonuses in some players’ contracts, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano on May 10. It could also be a turning point for contract talks with star wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

Jefferson is tracking to play out his rookie contract on his fifth-year option this season, which could serve as additional hurdles to getting a long-term deal done.

But Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is not worried.

“I know everything’s gonna get worked out there,” O’Connell said “Up & Adams” on May 14. “Justin knows the love and admiration that I have for him, and he knows he’s such a big part of what we do around here. That’s on the field, that’s off the field. Brings such a great energy to our building every single day and he’s the ultra-competitor as far as when he steps in between the white lines.”

Jefferson has had a historic start to his career, logging four straight 1,000-yard seasons and three trips to the Pro Bowl.

He is poised to reset the market for non-quarterbacks with his next contract.

“Very few people are able to do what he’s able to do,” O’Connell said. “But it’s how he goes about his business, how he works, how he pushes his teammates to get better. Justin Jefferson’s a huge part of this organization.”

Kwesi Adofo Mensah Calls Justin Jefferson Vikings’ ‘King Linchpin’

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

GettyJustin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings.

For his part, General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah echoed O’Connell’s optimism regarding ongoing talks with Jefferson’s representatives.

“Whenever we sign him, we want Justin to have his whole week,” Adofo-Mensah told reporters on April 27. “You know that friend that has a birthday that takes the month? I think Justin would deserve his whole month, if we signed a contract, to celebrate it. So we’re excited to work towards it. We’re going to keep going.”

Jefferson has been a big part of the Viking’s offseason plans.

O’Connell said that they kept the one-time All-Pro abreast of their plans for the position. Jefferson’s contract situation may have been a significant factor in the Vikings’ decision to make a move for a quarterback in the draft.

“You can’t have all these plans – we talk about all these visions – and not talk about that, the king linchpin,” Adofo-Mensah said. “So we’re going to keep working towards that end goal.”

Adofo-Mensah’s words have left some dissatisfied, though.

Insider to Kwesi Adofo-Mensah on Justin Jefferson: ‘Pay Him’

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

The message has been consistent from Adofo-Mensah. That is part of the problem, says Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

“Before the draft, the situation for the Vikings and star receiver Justin Jefferson was simple. Pay him, or trade him to someone who will,” Florio wrote on April 29. “Now that the trade window has closed (for now), the Vikings need to pay him.

“Recent comments from G.M. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah suggest that they will indeed pay him. But past comments from Adofo-Mensah created that same vibe. They still haven’t paid him.”

Florio suggests a four-year, $122 million contract.

Jefferson has rejected past offers from the Vikings. But Florio’s suggestion would beat that rumored offer by more than $4 million and includes the first three years “fully guaranteed.” It would become the highest annual salary for a non-quarterback.

It would also fall woefully short of the highest total value for a non-QB or even a wide receiver. That could be a roadblock to consummating a deal.

“I want to break the bank, and I want to be a part of an organization that wants me and to really give me what I deserve,” Jefferson said on “Mad Dog Sports Radio” on February 7. “I feel like eventually the Vikings will do what they need to do to have me in the building, but I don’t really know at this very moment. Only time will tell.”