Justin Jefferson Likely Has a Hand in the Vikings’ QB of the Future Selection

Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The atmosphere around the Vikings fanbase full with the tension of a long-awaited trade-up to select their quarterback of the future.

It’s not only because of that, though. There also is a palpable anxiety amongst Minnesotans regarding superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson and his commitment to staying in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. While these are two “different” situations, the two predicaments clouding over the 2024 Vikings offseason go hand-in-hand with each other.

Justin Jefferson and the Vikings’ Process of Selecting a QB

Justin Jefferson
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) catches a pass against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The consensus going into this pivotal offseason seemed to be that the best way to keep Justin Jefferson happy to the point of signing a lucrative new contract revolved around guaranteeing that he would continue to put up other-worldly production.

The obvious solution to that seemed to be offering Kirk Cousins a multi-year extension that would marry the 35-year-old quarterback (would’ve been 36 at the beginning of the regular season) to the Vikings organization for the rest of his career. 

That school of thought seemed to be more and more of a fleeting possibility as the calendar drew closer to the “legal tampering” period, at which point the agreement between Kirk Cousins and the Atlanta Falcons appeared as if it had already been done for multiple weeks.

With Cousins being the only starting quarterback who Jefferson had played with in the NFL (at least, before the carousel that took place at the position in 2023), this raised some concerns in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas about whether or not the best wide receiver on the planet would commit to what looked to be a “retool” within the walls of TCO. 

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Losing Cousins is like losing the high floor of 8-9 wins. You would never do worse than that record with “Kirko Chainz” starting an entire season worth of games. In theory, this meant that all a team needs to do is win a couple more games to make the playoffs every year, thus, keeping your superstars happy with giving them a shot to win the whole thing year-in and year-out.

Obviously, that methodology didn’t exactly lead to a bountiful amount of postseason success for the Vikings (it actually only led to one playoff win in the entire Cousins era, whether or not the fault fell on his shoulders). However, for Jefferson, it led to a history-making amount of production. The marriage of Cousins and Jefferson on the football field led to the most impressive beginning to a career for a wide receiver in professional football history. 

Per Pro Football Reference, through his first 60 games played (57 of those he started in), Jefferson has posted 5,899 yards and 30 touchdowns, averaging 15 yards per reception. To put that into perspective, through his first four seasons, he put up 503 more yards than Randy Moss in 4 less games played. Absolute insanity.

Now, there is no doubt that Kirk Cousins knows how to get it to the top guys, he is one of the best in the NFL at doing it. Losing a player like him would be a red flag to any wide receiver on the team, let alone the best one in the league that is in the negotiation stages of a contract. Thinking logically, though, this would only be a fix for four years on the long end.

With Jefferson being 24 years old currently, and assuming his agents are trying to sign a deal with a 3-4 year length, Jefferson could cash in again while he is in the prime of his professional playing career. It’s kind of insane to think this guy is only going to get better, isn’t it?

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe, all along, the best way to keep JJettas was to let Kirk walk and allow Jefferson to have a heavy hand in the decision making process for a rookie quarterback. It has been rumored that Jefferson is involved in the discussions revolving around the final decision that the Vikings brass makes about their quarterback of the future.

And why wouldn’t he? Not just from a football standpoint, but Jefferson is slowly becoming a pop-culture icon. He has become a household name not only for his football greatness, but he also popularized the “griddy” dance when he hit it going into the end zone in 2020 against the Tennessee Titans for his first career NFL touchdown.

This isn’t to say Jefferson didn’t want Kirk back on an extension. It is well known that the two had a great relationship on and off the field, but Jefferson isn’t dumb. He knows that another commitment to Cousins at this point in time probably wasn’t in the best interest of the Vikings’ future and if there was ever a time for Minnesota to strike for a quarterback, it’s this one.

The Wilf family isn’t confused whatsoever; they know how valuable to their own pockets Justin Jefferson is, to the point where a deal worth $35mil+ per year is plenty palatable. Giving him a voice in the search for their next quarterback is truly the least they can do relative to what Jefferson can do/already does for the entire operation. Losing Kirk Cousins wasn’t a signal for the end of Justin Jefferson in Minnesota. In fact, it likely has signaled the beginning.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.