Public Jostling About Justin Jefferson’s New Deal Has Begun

ESPN Analyst Predicts One More Vikings Move for the 2023 Offseason
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

There are at least three parties in the negotiation for Justin Jefferson’s new deal: Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Jefferson, and then the WR’s agent. Would it be fair to say that all three have joined in on some public jostling? Maybe.

First, the now oft-quoted words from #18 following the end of the season. He was asked about signing an extension in Minnesota and here is his response: “I’ll be wherever I’m wanted. If they want me here, I’m here. That’s not something that I can really control.” The follow-up question asked about whether he should be atop the pile for WR contracts and Jefferson pivoted into noting that his main priority is winning the Super Bowl.

Now, before venturing too far down the interpretation path, I’ll note that I don’t have any access to Jefferson’s mind. His real meaning and motivations rest with him, though I do think the belief that he’s hinting he wants out seems misguided.

The State of the Vikings: Week 12
Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell talks to wide receivers Adam Thielen (left) and Justin Jefferson (right) during mandatory mini camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

With the caveat out of the way: does Jefferson want to be in Minnesota? Yes, as long as the money is right. He’s saying all the right things about prioritizing playing well and helping his team get to the Super Bowl. At the end of the day, though, the NFL is all about cash. How does a team definitively show they want Jefferson to stay in Minnesota? Throw a ton of money in his direction.

Then, of course, we think of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s press conference, the one where he described needing to extend his star receiver as a “champagne problem.” In other words, it’s a tremendous luxury to have a receiver who is so successful that management needs to lock him up long term. According to the GM, the process has begun: “We’ve had initial dialogue with him, his agent.”

in 2023 Offseason
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

One brief note: Adofo-Mensah doesn’t actually say that he’s gotten into the meat and potatoes of an extension. Rather, just that the conversation has begun. That could be something as simple as, “Hey, we’re looking to keep Jefferson in Minnesota for a long time, so we’ll be in touch.”

However, this bit of news emerged following the press conference:

The interpretation from Rotoworld (one that seems quite plausible) is that the leak may have come from “someone close to Jefferson” in response to Adofo-Mensah’s comments. If that’s the case, then there is the belief on the player side that the official extension talks haven’t officially begun.

In Summary: Justin Jefferson’s New Deal

Previously, I argued that we’d see Justin Jefferson’s new deal come with a whopping $80+ million in guaranteed cash. In so doing, he’d surpass Cooper Kupp and A.J. Brown for total and full guarantees. We should also expect the deal to approach Tyreek Hill’s mark for annual average (though annual average doesn’t mean very much in the NFL).

How Much Will the Vikings Pay Justin Jefferson?
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The expectation far and wide is that Mr. Jefferson is going to add Offensive Player of the Year to his first-team All Pro selection. He can add these honors alongside the reality that he just produced a top-10 season for receiving yards and catches. And, by top 10, I’m referring to league history. His 128 catches are 7th in league history (a spot ahead of Stefon Diggs) and his 1809 yards are 6th in league history.

Not bad for a receiver who is still 23.

Going into 2023, Adofo-Mensah doesn’t have a ton of money to work with, but that shouldn’t matter too much for Justin Jefferson’s new deal. First off, there is great potential to open up a lot of cap space. Second, the huge cap hits are coming in future seasons, not 2023. In other words, Vikings fans shouldn’t be too concerned about whether a deal can be worked out.

More to come, folks, so stay tuned.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.