Vikings, WR Justin Jefferson Agree To Deal

THE Justin Jefferson The contract saga is coming to an end. The Vikings have reached a deal for the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year, and he will achieve his goal of becoming the highest-paid player in the league among non-quarterbacks.

Jefferson has reached agreement on a four-year, $140 million extension, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport report. The monster deal includes $110 million guaranteed and once again resets the top of the receiver market. He’ll see just under $89 million locked in upon signing, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter; this figure still places Jefferson at a level of his own. The 24-year-old is now under contract until 2028. Minnesota has since announced the move.

(RELATED: Have teams prepared two first-round offers for Jefferson?)

The team and player came close to reaching an agreement last offseason, but talks were put on hold during the 2023 campaign. Jefferson missed seven games with a hamstring injury, but unsurprisingly this illness did not hinder his negotiating power. Schefter reports that the three-time Pro Bowler turned down an offer with an average annual value of more than $28 million last summer. Now, Jefferson has a deal worth $35 million per year.

Like many other players looking for new contracts, the LSU alum — who was set to exercise his $19.74 million fifth-year option in 2024 — stayed away from voluntary OTAs. Minnesota had plenty of time to continue negotiations even after a brief pause in the draft, given the team’s intentions to retain him long-term. Schefter adds that several teams made trade inquiries about Jefferson this offseason, each of which was flatly rejected.

A historic start in terms of production led to a first-team All-Pro nod and two second-team selections early in his career. Jefferson’s statistical production – 5,899 yards, 30 touchdowns in 60 games – gave him considerable leverage to not only rise to the top of the pecking order at the WR position, but also to outperform Nick BosaThe 49ers’ 2023 expansion in terms of raising the bar for non-quarterbacks. Bosa’s then-record extension was worth $34 million per season, and Jefferson managed to edge her out on that pact.

The 2024 offseason saw many big deals signed at receiver, and the $30 million per year threshold was surpassed by both. Amon-Ra St. Brown And AJ Brown on their respective offers. It was always expected that Jefferson, with Lamb CeeDee (Cowboys) and Ja’Marr Chase (Bengals) would represent a level of their own in terms of value, with each exceptional player waiting for the others to sign to assess the market. Jefferson became the first member of that trio to put pen to paper, and Lamb and Chase will no doubt look to use today’s deal as a new benchmark.

Minnesota’s offense will look a lot different in 2024 given Kirk Cousins‘ free agent departure. Sam Darnold was added as a short-term replacement, signing a one-year contract worth $10 million. As expected, the Vikings then used their first draft pick on a signal-caller by selecting JJ McCarthy 10th overall. The latter represents the team’s QB of the future, although questions have been raised about his viability in the NFL given his age and lack of usage in the passing game at Michigan. Having Jefferson in place will obviously help McCarthy acclimate to the professional game when he assumes starting duties.

The Vikings also Jordan Addison attached to his rookie contract for at least the next three years (or four, if his fifth-year option is picked up). Minnesota’s skill corps includes tight end TJ Hockenson, who signed a $16.5 million-per-year extension last offseason to put him near the top of the market at his position. Regardless of the level of play of the quarterback the team sees progress, expectations will be high in the passing game given the investments made among the pass catchers.

Jefferson will remain a focal point in this regard for the foreseeable future. His ability to remain an elite producer with new signal-callers in place will be worth watching closely, as will the domino effect this deal generates among other extension-eligible wideouts.

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