National Football League
Vikings face tough offseason decisions, but the one with Justin Jefferson is easy
National Football League

Vikings face tough offseason decisions, but the one with Justin Jefferson is easy

Updated Feb. 15, 2024 5:54 p.m. ET

"I want to break the bank and I want to be a part of an organization that wants me, and to really give me what I deserve."

That was Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who is due for a potentially market-setting contract this offseason. Jefferson already has an Offensive Player of the Year award and All-Pro nod under his belt from the 2022 season after leading the league with 1,809 receiving yards.

In fact, Jefferson has not registered less than 1,000 receiving yards in any of his four seasons. Even this past year, Jefferson had 1,074 receiving yards while playing just 10 games.

It's hard to argue any receiver means more to his respective team than Jefferson. Despite not having quarterback Kirk Cousins for over half the games Jefferson appeared in this season, he still cracked 100 yards five times.


Since entering the league in 2020, Jefferson has the second-most receiving yards behind Tyreek Hill. His per-game average surpasses Hill's (98.3-92.7). His 15.0 yards per catch matches A.J. Brown for the NFL's highest mark during that span.

This is all to say, keeping Jefferson is going to be expensive. Jefferson wanting to "break the bank" comes as a surprise to no one. Two years ago, Hill set receiver contract records by signing for $30 million in average annual value (four years, $120 million) and $72.2 million guaranteed.

Jefferson's next deal could shatter that one.

"I feel like eventually, the Vikings will do what they need to do to have me in the building, but I don't really know at this very moment, only time will tell," he said.

It's a hefty ask, especially when we just watched Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs win the title with a rookie receiver and no other consistent wideouts on the roster. Of course, the Chiefs have the best quarterback on the planet right now, as well as the best tight end. That makes up for a lot, as we saw especially in the fourth quarter and overtime of Super Bowl LVIII.

The Vikings, who just missed the postseason for the third time in four years, obviously don't have a Mahomes. In fact, they currently don't have a quarterback at all. Cousins is not only a free agent but is coming off an Achilles tear on the wrong side of 35. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has expressed a desire to bring him back, as has coach Kevin O'Connell. But with quarterback-needy teams sprinkled all throughout the league, Minnesota is going to need a sound backup plan.

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Quarterback contracts are the most expensive in the league, followed by wide receivers. The Vikings now have to figure out if they can afford both, along with defensive end Danielle Hunter, linebacker Jordan Hicks and safety Harrison Smith, who were all integral to an improving defense.

According to Spotrac, the Vikings are currently projected to have almost $29 million in cap space for 2024. That obviously isn't enough to afford all of the aforementioned pieces. Jefferson has to be top priority, though. The club can't let homegrown talent like that leave the building.

Jefferson wants to stay in Minnesota, too. He fits right in with the color scheme, having played his college ball at LSU, and he feels at home.

"With everything that I have given for the organization, of course I want to stay, and that's why I've called it home ever since I got into the league. It is what it is. At the end of the day, I just want to play football."

It's time for Minnesota to make some tough decisions — and the right one on Jefferson.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.


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