MMQB Insiders Suggest Justin Jefferson Trade Rumors Have Pushed Him Further Away from Vikings

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

The Minnesota Vikings last significant hurdle this offseason is in getting a deal with star wide receiver Justin Jefferson done. He is under contract for just one more season, but likely won’t play without an extension.

It has long been assumed to be something that reaches the finish line, but Albert Breer is now exercising caution. All offseason the Minnesota Vikings have talked a good game when it comes to negotiations with Justin Jefferson, but nothing has materialized.

Kevin O’Connell has noted that he wants to have his star wide receiver in the building, and there have been multiple public comments by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah that suggest the franchise has no interest in trading him. A payday has to happen, but time might be starting to run out.

Albert Breer isn’t certain Minnesota Vikings ink Justin Jefferson anymore

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Sports Illustrated top NFL insider Albert Breer is now among the first prominent voices to suggest that there is some reason for caution when it comes to an eventual contract for Justin Jefferson.

Despite rumors that suggested Minnesota toyed with the idea of grabbing Malik Nabers and trading their star, all indications previously were that the finish line would ultimately be reached. Breer, however, is starting to question what is taking so long, but also cautions that the Vikings might not reach the finish line.

I understand the hysteria around the Justin Jefferson report—and respect, obviously, the St. Paul Pioneer Press’s reporting on how the Vikings handled the draft. But what I can add here is that if there was ever a thought that Minnesota could move up to get Malik Nabers, a move that on paper could lead to a corresponding transaction involving Jefferson, it never got very far.

Now, that doesn’t mean a Jefferson deal gets done. That negotiation got more, not less, complicated with the Detroit Lions’ Amon-Ra St. Brown and Philadelphia Eagles’ A.J. Brown signing extensions, and it should not be ignored that Jefferson took on an extra year of injury risk after becoming eligible for a new deal and got hurt during that year.

Albert Breer – Senior NFL Reporter/Lead Content Strategist at TheMMQB (SI)

Breer still thinks the Vikings will do what they must to get this done, but it seems this is the first connected source with at least some exercising of pause.

Minnesota Vikings could have ended the Justin Jefferson hysteria a long time ago

While there’s no doubt Justin Jefferson is going to cost the Minnesota Vikings a substantial amount, it’s hard to fathom why receivers well below his tier are impacting his market. Regardless of what they got, Jefferson was always going to set a new standard, and given the expectations of his ask, that would likely transcend his position as a whole.

Breer isn’t alone in his concerns about Jefferson. Fellow Sports Illustrated senior scribe (and his MMQB co-host) Connor Orr is suggesting that any notion of a trade for rookie talent, regardless of validity, wasn’t going to sit well with Jefferson.

“If the Vikings plan on keeping Jefferson, he should have been under contract by now, plain and simple. He should have been under contract before opening day of 2023. He should have been signed the second he became eligible to sign because good, competitive teams serious about not trading away young talent tend to sign their players before the absolute last minute as a show of good faith and a knowledge that the market is only going to rise.”

Connor Orr – Senior Writer for SI, Co-Host of MMQB Podcast

Adofo-Mensah must get his wide receiver to believe that there’s no merit to such a report, but as Orr also astutely points out, this contract still being without resolution speaks loudest here.

The Vikings have never been in a spot where Jefferson should have been compared to other wide receivers, but the longer they have waited, the more leverage the star gets to drive his own price north.

Related: Jared Allen Urges Vikings to Invest Big in Justin Jefferson

Had Adofo-Mensah simply paid Justin Jefferson through the lens of deals highest across the league, then the entire cycle of news this has encapsulated would be taken care of. The fact that it is not has Orr reporting that, whether true or not, recent reports that the Vikings were interested in Malik Nabers has, at the least, “pushed Justin Jefferson further away.”

[Jefferson]has been better, in terms of catches and yardage, over his first four seasons than Randy Moss. He has no peer. That should have placed us in a space where none of what is currently happening occurs outside of the traditional, theatrical back and forth between a player’s agent and team through the media. Instead, we are cornered in a place where the Vikings could actually be looking more like the old Lions than the new ones, a team that alienates star power to the point of dejection. True or untrue, the news of the Vikings possibly trading up for Nabers in the draft has pushed Jefferson further away. 

Connor Orr – Senior Writer for SI, Co-Host of MMQB Podcast

As free agency is largely a barren landscape at this point, and with the draft picks all but figured out from a logistical standpoint, there is nothing stopping Minnesota from paying up.

Related: Florio Wonders if Vikings are Waiting for Justin Jefferson Trade Offer They Won’t Refuse

Jefferson reporting to mandatory minicamp on June 4 should be the focal point, and not having an absence be a distraction for either side is almost entirely in the hands of the Vikings. It’s a big week as discussions continue, but the narrative could turn to celebration on a dime once the deal gets done.

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