Blockbuster Trade Proposal Could Send WR Justin Jefferson to Patriots

Justin Jefferson

Getty Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson.

A proposed trade from ESPN’s Bill Barnwell could see superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson in a New England Patriots uniform in 2024.

On April 18, Barnwell released his annual mock draft, which includes scenarios for every first-round pick to be traded.

New England holding the No. 3 overall pick has led to a plethora of trade rumors, and the Minnesota Vikings have been one of the most frequently mentioned trade partners.

Jefferson, the Vikings’ top receiver, has been the subject of trade rumors along the way because of his monster annual market value — $29.4 million, which is nearly $10 million over his $19.7 million fifth-year extension.

In Barnwell’s proposal, which he wrote “might … make sense” for the teams involved, the Patriots acquire Jefferson and the Vikings’ No. 23 pick in exchange for the No. 3 pick.

Minnesota needs a new quarterback after losing Kirk Cousins to the Falcons, and the Patriots’ trade down doesn’t negate finding a starting-caliber quarterback.

“This is a deal in which the Patriots and Vikings can both address their needs, albeit in a complicated way,” Barnwell wrote. “From the New England side, independent of what it ends up doing at quarterback, the franchise desperately needs to land a playmaker who can change games at wide receiver.”

“Jefferson is 24 and entering his prime. Whether it’s Jacoby Brissett or another passer, the Patriots would make a historic upgrade in going from DeVante Parker to Jefferson at WR1, and they have the cap space necessary to sign Jefferson to a market-resetting extension,” Barnwell added.

No Patriots receiver went over 49 receptions, 561 yards or 4 touchdowns in 2023. Jefferson had 68 catches for 1,074 yards and 5 touchdowns amid injury in 2023, and he went over 100 catches, 1,600 yards and 7 touchdowns the previous two seasons.

New England has $37.7 million in salary cap space this year to start absorbing Jefferson’s contract wishes. In addition, the Patriots need to fill many roster holes through the draft, which means the team will have many players on inexpensive rookie contracts.

Bill Barnwell’s Proposal Would See New England Fill Big Need Before QB

New England could land a starting-caliber quarterback late in the first round, but Barnwell doesn’t see a rush amid a multitude of roster needs in Foxborough.

“They would also be in position with the No. 23 pick to add an offensive tackle ahead of the [Dallas] Cowboys and [Green Bay] Packers, both of whom could be in the market,” Barnwell wrote.

“They could then finish off their offense by using the No. 34 to select a quarterback such as Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr.,” Barnwell added. “Quarterback, franchise wide receiver and potential left tackle of the future, all in one draft? I could see the case for this path, although it’s certainly riskier than taking a quarterback at No. 3.”

Barnwell: Patriots-Jefferson Proposal Is ‘Roughly About Fair’

While trading Jefferson seems like a pipe dream for Patriots fans and a stunner for Vikings fans, Barnwell pointed out that it fits on Hall of Fame head coach Jimmy Johnson’s trade chart.

“This trade would value Jefferson as being worth something like the No. 7 overall pick in a typical draft by the Jimmy Johnson chart, or the equivalent of the pick Nos. 24 and 26,” Barnwell wrote. “That’s probably a little lower than Vikings fans might expect, but it’s also a product of a draft class that is so wideout-heavy.”

“At the same time, the return for the No. 3 pick might also seem a little low if it produces the equivalent of three first-round picks in the 20s for the Patriots. This deal is roughly about fair,” Barnwell concluded.

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