Could the Vikings be Shopping Justin Jefferson?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
David Reginek-USA TODAY SportsCredit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Charley Walters, who first became well known on the local sports scene as a feel-good Minnesota Twins story, posted his semi-weekly column in the Pioneer Press over the weekend, a column that ran in the St. Paul newspaper on Sunday morning.

Better chance of Justin Jefferson trade than we think…?

In it, Walters wrote some pretty interesting words regarding Minnesota Vikings wide receiver, Justin Jefferson, which started with: “There could be a better chance of [Justin] Jefferson getting traded than anybody’s saying”. That sentence certainly got my attention, but also had me side-eying my screen as I read on. Here’s the full paragraph, for context purposes.

There could be a better chance of Jefferson, 24, getting traded than anybody’s saying. That’s because it doesn’t make sense to pay the NFL’s best receiver the money he wants (expected to be at least $150 million over five years) on a team that’s not expected to be seriously competitive for several more years.

Charley Walters – Pioneer Press

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Shooter goes back to the same well that we’ve seen other local media members grasp for, early in this 2024 NFL offseason. He and others have taken the stand that this Minnesota Vikings team does not have enough talent or cap space to be a Super Bowl contender in the short term. Thus, they argue that the front office should be selling off the winning assets they do have, instead of investing in and trying to retain them.

Would Minnesota Vikings dare…?

Minnesota Vikings Justin Jefferson
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Is this something the Vikings are actually considering? Personally, I doubt it and I haven’t heard even the slightest rumblings from other local insiders around town, who all believe the Wilfs will backup the BRINKS truck for Jefferson at some point over the next few months.

Has Charley Walters fallen off his rocker?

I want to give Charley Walters the respect he deserves, because he has earned as much. But you have to wonder how much of Sunday’s column is his own speculation, vs what he’s hearing through sources at TCO Performance Center; something his phrasing leaves up for debate.

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Back in 1965, Walters was an 18-year old kid, fresh out of Edison High school in Minneapolis, who showed promise during a Minnesota Twins open tryout at Met Stadium.

By 1969, he was taking to Big League mounds as a teammate of Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Jim Perry. He saw the mound six times that season, as a Twins relief pitcher and it’s also where he inherited the nickname “Shooter” via manager Billy Martin.

When Charley’s 7-year minor league baseball career ended in 1973, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota, and by the late 70s, he was a sports writer at the Pioneer Press, a position he’s held ever since. In his five decades with St. Paul’s largest newspaper, Walters has become one of the most respected — certainly one of the most tenured — journalists and insiders in mainstream Minnesota sports media.

Yes, we’ve all talked amongst friends, both on and off the internet, about how much JJ will cost and what the Vikings could get for him if they put him on the trade block (Shooter says it would be “more than two first-round picks”), but most of us haven’t been local sports insiders for multiple decades, either.

Nonetheless, Charley is getting older, and possibly, closer to falling off his rocker. In December, Walters reported that Gophers men’s basketball guard Braeden Carrington — who was taking time away from the program to focus on his mental health at the time — was likely to enter the transfer portal. Carrington, a Park Center (MN) alum, has since re-joined Ben Johnson’s squad. His mom strongly and publicly denied her son had any intentions of entering the portal, at the time.

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So… is Walters’ trustworthiness fading or is he really hearing early Justin Jefferson trade conversations that are being had inside the Minnesota Vikings facilities in Eagan? In-house conversations that would drop an atomic sized bomb into the proverbial local sports waters?

I’m heavily leaning toward the former… but even at 76 years old, you can’t completely rule a ‘Shooter bomb’ out as a slim possibility. And until JJ is under long-term contractual control, anything is technically possible.

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