Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson joins the likes of fellow 2020 classmates in that of Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert as big names from that year’s NFL Draft eligible for an extension this offseason.
A record-setting pass-catcher during his time at LSU, Jefferson has not disappointed through three NFL seasons. He’s earned a Pro Bowl each year and is coming off his first ever All-Pro nod.
For general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, this could help expedite a potentially massive contract extension for Jefferson during the spring.
The front office head spoke to the media during his season-ending press conference on Wednesday, noting that the two sides have had preliminary conversations regarding an extension.
When specifically talking about what it might take to lock up Jefferson long-term, Adofo-Mensah refused to call it a challenge. This leads us to believe that Minnesota knows the market for a player of this ilk and will have to pay the piper to extend one of the most-talented young receivers in modern NFL history.
The cost of locking up Jefferson will be dependent on several factors. That includes the ever-evolving market, Jefferson’s performane and the expected increase of the NFL salary cap in future years due to its television contracts. Below, we factor all of these in when determining what it might cost for Minnesota to lock up Jefferson this offseason.
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Justin Jefferson contract and historical start to his career
This past season saw the 23-year-old Jefferson become the youngest player in NFL history to lead the league in receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809).
He has also put up the most receiving yards for a player in his first three seasons in NFL history, surpassing the likes of all-time greats Randy Moss and Jerry Rice.
- Justin Jefferson stats (2020-22): 324 receptions, 4,825 yards, 25 TD, 68.1% completion
To put this into perspective, Moss put up 96 fewer receptions and roughly 700 less yards in his first three seasons. Jerry Rice tallied 200 catches for 3,575 yards in his first three seasons despite leading the NFL in receptions and touchdowns as a sophomore in 1986. You can bet that Jefferson’s agent, Todd France over at CAA Sports, will take this into account in negotiations with Minnesota.
NFL wide receiver market and Justin Jefferson
Las Vegas Raiders star Davante Adams set the market after his trade from the Green Bay Packers last spring. The All-Pro inked a five-year, $140 million extension with $65.67 million in guarantees.
Tyreek Hill signed a four-year, $120 million contract of his own with the Miami Dolphins after he was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs last spring, too. Here’s a look at the five highest-paid receivers in the NFL today as a backdrop to what Jefferson might end up earning from Minnesota in the coming months.
There’s a lot of complexities when it comes to the current wide receiver climate around the NFL. Hill, Adams and Brown were all traded last season by their former teams due to the finances. Said teams didn’t want to help reset the market, opting for draft capital instead.
This won’t be the case with Minnesota. Jefferson and his reps know full well that there’s a certain amount of onus on the Vikings’ brass to get this done before the market develops even further.
While considered lesser receivers, CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys), Brandon Aiyuk (49ers) an Tee Higgins (Bengals) are all eligible for first-time extensions this offseson. Any one of these receivers signing lucrative extensions before Justin Jefferson would impact his market in a positive way.
Should things extend into the 2023 season, it gets even more complicated for Minnesota with the likes of Ja’Marr Chase (Bengals), Jaylen Waddle (Dolphins) and DeVonta Smith (Eagles) all becoming eligible for extensions following next season. You get the point, right?
Comparing Justin Jefferson to other top-flight receivers
The statistical comparisons are not necessarily fair in that Jefferson is still only 23 years and has not yet hit his prime. The other top-flight receivers around the league don’t come close to comparing to what Jefferson did through three seasons.
For comparison’s sake, Adams caught 163 passes for less than 2,000 yards in his first three seasons with Green Bay. The only real comparison would be Tyreek Hill with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2016-18 (223 catches, 3,255 yards, 25 TD).
This is one of the primary reasons Minnesota wants to get a deal done sooner rather than later. Jefferson isn’t going to simply reset the market, he’ll shatter it. This will create a situation in which other teams want to extend their star receivers before Jefferson gets his bag.
Projecting next Justin Jefferson contract
- 5 years, $175 million w/ $100 million in guarantees
Yes, Jefferson is looking at quarterback money on an extension. It might seem unreasonable right now. But his camp knows full well that the quarterback market will reset itself, too.
Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are eligible for extensions this offseason. Lamar Jackson will finally get that huge contract. We’re looking at $50 million annually on those deals. So, why wouldn’t the game’s best wide receiver be worth $35 million per season?