Justin Jefferson has often been compared to former Minnesota Vikings all-time great receiver Randy Moss after his first two seasons in the Twin Cities. Both players entered the league as underrated prospects, in a sense.
Neither were the top pass-catcher selected in their respective draft classes, yet no one has outproduced them. Also, 20 players were taken ahead of Moss, and 21 were taken ahead of Jefferson. Crazy, right?
Yet, from the very beginning of their NFL careers, it’s been easy to say that both quickly became some of the very best at their positions early on. Moss has 95 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie debut in 1998, and Jefferson had 175 yards and a touchdown in his third game in 2020 as a rookie.
At this point, there are no more questions. Jefferson’s talent is undeniable. He’s one of, if not the best receiver in the game today. But some Vikings fans seem worried about the future of their superstar receiver. By all appearances, those concerns have no merit.
Rising wide receiver market causing panic in MN
Each year the price to re-sign a top-paid player at his position goes up. That’s not changing any time soon. Recently we’ve seen the biggest names among receivers starting to get paid like quarterbacks. Consider that Tyreek Hill and the Kansas City Chiefs couldn’t even make things work, even after he’s won a Super Bowl with Patrick Mahomes, and it’s understandable for Vikings fans to be concerned about their own rising star, with Jefferson. We saw the same situation play out in Green Bay, with Davante Adams choosing Las Vegas instead.
Hill is set to make $30 million annually on his new contract with the Miami Dolphins. This is more than what Kirk Cousins got to sign with the Vikings in 2018 when he signed a three-year, $84 million contract. Even now, Cousins will average $35 million over the next two years. Basically, Hill is getting paid as a quarterback. Can the Vikings afford to pay ‘two quarterbacks’?
The answer is yes, they can. Just like player earnings, the budget from which teams can operate continues to rise, with salary cap numbers increasing each year.
Jefferson can get paid, quite well, without the money all being paid up front. What the Vikings can do is back-load his contract while giving him a large signing bonus right away. This would allow the team to pay Jefferson more later down the road, when other aging players come off the books, and maybe even Cousins.
- Justin Jefferson contract: $3.57 million in 2022 (57th among WRs)
For example, maybe the Vikings do draft a rookie quarterback in the next year or two to take over, in which case the incoming draftee would have a very low salary for the first few seasons. Or better yet, maybe Kellen Mond still develops into the QB of the future. Either way, the Vikings would have plenty leftover to pay Jefferson whatever he wants.
Justin Jefferson ‘not fond of money’
Even though the rest of the league may not see it this way, Jefferson still feels like he has a lot to prove. He recently spoke about how he feels he’s not the best wide receiver in the NFL just yet, but he does think he can surpass Davante Adams with another strong season in 2022.
It won’t matter whether Jefferson is seen as the best of the best, or if he somehow regresses a bit this season and puts up career-lows. We know what he offers at this point, and the Vikings do too. By all appearances, the new regime is building around Jefferson for once instead of a running game that always seems interchangeable in Minnesota. They’re not worried about what inflating Jefferson’s stats could mean for their budget.
- Justin Jefferson stats in 2021: 108 receptions, 1,616 yards, 10 TD catches
And from the sounds of it, Jefferson isn’t too worried about his bank account either. Just like Moss wasn’t after he got a traffic ticket in 2002. If not by check, how was he going to pay? “Straight cash, homie“.
Jefferson is eligible for a contract extension at the start of the 2023 league year or next offseason. By all accounts, he’s set to become one of, if not the highest-paid player at his position. Is Jefferson worried about his contract heading into the season? Not really.
I guess Jefferson isn’t all about the C.R.E.A.M.
That sounds like a nice problem to have. But when you’re a player who’s set to make millions and millions of dollars, there’s no reason to worry. Not too fond of money? LOL. We’ll see how that tracks next offseason when the Vikings are backing up the Brinks truck to keep Jefferson in town. Which, of course they have to do.
For now, Jefferson’s saying all the right things from the perspective of the Vikings, but his agent likely doesn’t like hearing that one of their star clients are “not too fond of money”. Still, seeing where his contract value ranks with his peers will be telling. And if Jefferson becomes the highest-paid receiver in football, should anyone take issue with it? Absolutely not. At that point, he will have earned it.
Oh, and by the way, did we mention that Jefferson played at LSU on the same team as Moss’ son, Thaddeus? Yup. Plenty of ties linking these two legends together. While Moss eventually left to pursue a Super Bowl ring, which he never got, the hope is Jefferson can accomplish all his goals while staying in purple. Let’s just hope he’s paid what he deserves when the contract negotiations get underway.