How Much is Justin Jefferson Going to Cost and Will New Contract Handcuff Vikings?

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings drafted Justin Jefferson with the number 22 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and, had he not missed seven games dealing with a severe hamstring injury, his first four seasons in purple could not have gone any better.

In 60 NFL games, Jefferson has compiled 392 receptions for 5,899 yards and 30 touchdowns. The only comparisons currently offered at Pro Football Reference for JJ’s first four years in the NFL are Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens.

Justin Jefferson is about to get paid… but how much?

But guess what else happens for young superstars after their fourth season? They get paid. And paid is exactly what Justin Jefferson is going to get this offseason. The Vikings front office failed to get a long-term JJ deal done last offseason and that is going to cost them.

Related: Vikings Intend to Bring Kirk Cousins Back and Address QB Future This Offseason

The Minnesota Vikings are expected to make Justin Jefferson the highest paid non-quarterback in football. The highest paid non-QB in football is going to cost more this season, than he did last season. That’s the cost of doing business in the ever increasing cap world of the NFL.

But how much is that, actually? We’ve all been told for months, wait… years, that the Vikings are going to back up the BRINKS truck for JJ, but what exactly does that entail. Great question, let’s take a look.

Nick Bosa’s contract makes projecting Jefferson’s much easier

The nice part about JJ’s demand to become the highest paid non-QB in the NFL is the hard target it sets. Actually, we should thank Nick Bosa, whose agent made sure last offseason that there was no doubt, no matter which way you looked at it, his client was going to be the highest paid non-quarterback in the NFL

A quick peek over at Spotrac.com tells us that, outside of QB, Bosa is the #1 paid player in the NFL in Total Contract Value, Total Guaranteed, Guaranteed at Signing and Average Annual Value.

Spotrac.com

So, if you are the Justin Jefferson’s agent, you’re showing up on day one of contract negotiations and sliding this chart across the table to Kwesi Adofo-Mensah with the entire top row highlighted and you say, beat all these numbers and we have a deal.

Related: 2024 Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft – 1.0

But honestly, none of the above numbers really matter to Vikings fans. It’s not our money, we do not care if JJ is making $200 million or $2. The only numbers we care about are the cap numbers and how they Jefferson’s contract will affect what the front office can and cannot do this offseason.

Will JJ’s new contract handcuff the Vikings in the near future?

And this is where we start to break down the widely accepted myth that the Minnesota Vikings cannot afford to sign their best players (like JJ, Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter) and still stay underneath the NFL’s hard salary cap.

Again, we turn to Nick Bosa’s contract. As noted above, he sets the bar for every single contract metric Jefferson’s agent is going to want Minnesota to beat. So, how much does Nick Bosa count against the 49ers salary cap?

Well, in the first year of Bosa’s deal, he counted a measly $11 million against the Niners cap. Next season (2024), in year two, he will count just $14.7 million against the cap. Year 3, you ask? Still… only $20.5 million.

Then finally, in year 4, Bosa’s deal jumps up to $42 million against San Francisco’s cap. But at that point, the Niners have options to move money around and use Bosa’s contract to manipulate future cap situations, much like we see NFL teams do each offseason with their massive QB contracts.

YEAR AGEBASE SALARYSIGNINGROSTER BONUSOPTIONCAP HITDEAD CAPCASHCASH AAV
2023Contract details by year26$1M$10M$11M$88M$51M$51M
2024Contract details by year27$1.1M$10M$500K$3.1M$14.7M$77M$16.9M$34M
2025Contract details by year28$1.2M$10M$500K$8.9M$20.5M$62.3M$30.1M$32.9M
2026Contract details by year29$22.7M$10M$500K$8.9M$42M$29.1M$23.2M$30.4M
POTENTIAL OUT: 2027, 4 YR, $121,730,545; $16,092,000 DEAD CAP
2027Contract details by year30$32.7M$10M$500K$8.9M$52M$16.1M$33.2M$31M
2028Contract details by year31$33.5M$500K$8.9M$42.9M$3.1M$34M$31.5M
Spotrac.com

Related: Justin Jefferson Changes Tone Regarding His Role in Kirk Cousins’ Contract Talks

These numbers are very important because the biggest issue with re-signing Kirk Cousins, most people think, is that the JJ and Cousins contracts combined will take up too much of the salary cap to build a competitive roster.

But as you can see, this is a myth. It will be very easy for the Vikings to backload Jefferson’s new deal so that it doesn’t get overly expensive until after Kirk’s deal is off the books and he is 39-40 years old.

Busting Salary Cap Myths

justin jefferson contract extension minnesota vikings
David Rodriguez Munoz / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: David Rodriguez Munoz / USA TODAY NETWORK

So again, will Justin Jefferson’s new deal be expensive? Yes, for the Wilfs. Will it affect roster building? Maybe in the future, depending on what happens to the salary cap in the future. But, those problems will be for another day down the road.

Kwesi and the Vikings made it clear on Wednesday that they want to remain competitive. To do that, I expect the Vikings front office to manipulate JJ’s new deal just like the Niners did with Bosa’s, pushing most of the money to the back-half of the contract.

That should help them re-sign Kirk, probably Danielle Hunter too, and still have money left over to patch up the defense.

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