The Pair of Christmas Gifts Vikings Fans Deserve

Syndication: Florida Today

At times, an ornery bunch. Still others are overly pessimistic while others somehow maintain hope amidst years of futility and heartbreak. Yes, Vikings fandom is comprised of all kinds, so there is seldom consensus within such a vast and passionate crew.

A pair of topics — Christmas gifts, if you will — that basically anyone will agree with rests in the importance of edge rusher Danielle Hunter and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. While plenty debate the merits of retaining Kirk Cousins or finding a reworked deal for various other veterans, Hunter and Jefferson continue to inspire the closest thing to consensus that the modern world can afford. Seeing each attached to Minnesota’s roster for several more years would be a welcome sight for just about everyone who cheers for the Vikings.

A Pair of Christmas Gifts for Vikings Fans

A true EDGE1 and true WR1 is a nice place to start. No guarantee of a Super Bowl, no, but certainly a rock-solid foundation.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Based on recent history, the expected price for Danielle Hunter should be roughly $25 million per season. NFC North rivals — the Packers’ Rashan Gary and Bears’ Montez Sweat — recently put pen to paper on deals at a similar range. One has to assume that both sides will work off of those deals when chatting at the negotiation table.

Indeed, the sweet spot seems to be something within the range of $25 million per season for three or four years. That kind of deals offers some long-term stability without being too wild of a commitment for someone who will soon see a “3” in front of his age.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons
Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) dives for yardage behind Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson is likely to land a historic deal. Even with all of the missed time, Jefferson was able to surpass Randy Moss for most receiving yards in the initial four years of a career. And, of course, there’s still time to pile on more statistics.

In fact, Jefferson still has a pretty good shot at hitting 1,000 yards. Doing so would very likely lead to Minnesota achieving more history: having three 1,000-yard pass catchers. T.J. Hockenson, Jordan Addison, and Jefferson have all been producing at a strong rate. Can they do something not even Moss, Cris Carter, and Jake Reed could do?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) reacts with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) after scoring his first career touchdown pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Now, bring things around to Jefferson’s contract more specifically.

Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams are the ones who set the new benchmarks by averaging $30 million and $28 million per season (as haphazard as annual average can be). The total guarantee crown belongs to Cooper Kupp, who hit $75 million. Expect Jefferson to surpass all of these figures.

Surpassing $30 million per year (on average) and then hitting (or maybe surpassing) $80 million in total guarantees won’t be at all surprising. The injury is concerning, yes, but the team and player were wise. Jefferson got back to 100% health before returning, so there really isn’t much reason to be too worried about where the receiver is going with his health.

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) catches a touchdown pass as Carolina Panthers cornerback D’Shawn Jamison (29) defends in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the news of a contract extension for Danielle Hunter and Justin Jefferson isn’t going to arrive on Christmas (unless Santa has some serious sway in Eagan). The point is simply that both Hunter and Jefferson are playing at elite levels and look to be foundational pieces for the Vikings both now and in the future. Contract extensions for both would be a welcome gift in the minds of most Minnesotans.

Look for each one to continue showing their dominance in Week 17 when the Vikings host the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. The game will take place at 7:20 p.m. CST on New Year’s Eve.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.