Justin Jefferson Reiterates Stance on Kirk Cousins
On Wednesday, Justin Jefferson made headlines by making it clear that he wants to “break the bank” with his next contract.
While some have taken that portion of his day on Radio Row at the Super Bowl and run with it, Jefferson had plenty more to say throughout the day. In addition to his interview with Adam Schein on Mad Dog Sports Radio, the Vikings star wide receiver also chatted with Rick Eisen about his contract negotiations as well as QB Kirk Cousins.
Justin Jefferson and a New Appreciation for Kirk Cousins
Cousins and Jefferson were unable to spend much time on the field together during the 2023 season. Of course, the wide receiver would suffer a hamstring injury that landed him on IR from Weeks 6-13, and shortly after that injury, Cousins tore his Achilles in Week 8, ending his season.
As a result, the two players only were on the field together for five games this past season, and still, when Cousins was throwing to Jefferson, he totaled 36 receptions for 571 yards and three touchdowns. Stretched over 17 games, that pace translates to about 122 receptions, 1941 yards, and 10 TDs.
Jefferson told Eisen that this lack of time together allowed him to have a new appreciation for Cousins. “Kirk is great,” Jefferson said. “Kirk is great as a teammate, as a person. Seeing the difference from having multiple quarterbacks throw to you as opposed to having that one main quarterback. It’s definitely a difference. You, kind of, appreciate it more.”
This appreciation makes sense. Outside of a Week 17 game in 2021 where Cousins was sidelined due to Covid, the veteran is the only NFL QB who had ever started a game alongside Jefferson heading into the 2023 season. That all changed this past year when Jefferson had to work with a carousel of QBs like Josh Dobbs, Jaren Hall, and Nick Mullens following Cousins’ injury.
“I feel like everyone, especially Vikings fans, appreciate Kirk a little bit more now that we’ve seen him off the field. It’s definitely been tough, but to see him still in the training room, still interacting with us as a team, still having that high spirit. I guess we will see what goes on,” Jefferson continued.
Especially with Kevin O’Connell as the head coach, the duo has thrived to form Minnesota’s pass-first offensive attack. Jefferson wants to see that continue in 2024.
“I would love to have him stay and have that connection with him,” the star receiver told Eisen. “It’s going to be difficult to create that connection with a whole new quarterback. Especially if we don’t know if we’re going to draft one or we’re going to pick one up. So, it’s a little bit of a difficult situation, but I would like to have him back. I would like to have him in that locker room, especially with that leadership he has.”
Of course, that is no guarantee at this point in time. Cousins is slated to hit free agency this spring, unless he and the Vikings come to an agreement on an extension prior to the start of the new league year on March 13th.
The Vikings currently hold the No. 11 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft as well, and they very well could be a team to select a younger, cheaper QB option to take over the offense. Eisen asked Jefferson who the Vikings QB will be this upcoming season, and the receiver responded, “I don’t know that. It could be Kirk; it could be someone else. I have no idea.”
Regardless, Jefferson has continuously supported Cousins and would like to see him back in Minnesota next season. We’ll see if that wish comes to fruition in the coming weeks.
Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.
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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.