Justin Jefferson is Going to be Expensive

Photo: John Autey – Pioneer Press

Tyreek Hill was traded from Kansas City to Miami on Wednesday after extension talks between he and the Chiefs reportedly broke down. Moments later, Hill and the Dolphins agreed to a new 4-year, $120 million ($72M guaranteed) contract. If you’re bad at math like me and didn’t compute it immediately, that’s $30 million per season, making Hill the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL.

Justin Jefferson’s Turn Next Offseason

But Tyreek Hill isn’t the only happy wide receiver in the NFL today. His new deal helps many top receivers across the league. None more so than Minnesota Vikings’ Justin Jefferson, who will be eligible for his first NFL contract extension next offseason. JJ is probably foaming at the mouth, knowing he could be the WR who resets the market this time next year.

In fact, should Jefferson have another huge season, and with O’Connell running the offense there’s no reason to believe he won’t, I’d expect him to demand a new deal by this time next year or threaten to holdout. Wouldn’t you? He’s scheduled to make just $1.8 million in cash during the 2023 season.

It’d be financially irresponsible for a 23-year-old Justin Jefferson to work for under $2 million guaranteed when he’s worth, and eligible for, $100 million. What if he were to suffer a significant injury? Something devastating could cost him $50 million or more. Probably not worth the risk, if I’m his agent.

“But he’s under contract”

Yes, it’s true. Not only is Justin Jefferson under contract for 2023, the Vikings have a team option on his for 2024. So they hold his rights for three more seasons (’22, ’23, ’24). But, if the Wilfs hope to keep their budding superstar wide receiver around during his prime years, they’ll have to treat him like a superstar next offseason, when he logically asks to meet at the negotiating table.

A freshly signed contract next offseason wouldn’t kick in until 2024, meaning Kwesi & Co would have plenty of time to prepare for such a large cap hit. It’s not by coincidence that Kirk Cousins’ new extension is scheduled to come off the books that same season.

There’s no doubt Justin Jefferson will want to reset the market just like Tyreek Hill did today. It’s a badge of honor that gains you a new type of respect across the league. But the Minnesota Vikings have some negotiating power too. We’ll see how each side plays it next spring.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan