Justin Jefferson Seeking Largest Non-QB Contract in NFL History

Justin Jefferson is the best wide receiver in football and, these days, the best wide receiver in football makes a lot of money. So this offseason, when JJ becomes eligible to sign his first NFL contract extension, the Minnesota Vikings are expected to backup the proverbial “BRINKS” truck for their young superstar.

Justin Jefferson wants biggest non-QB contract

Now that the Super Bowl is over and the NFL offseason is on the verge of officially starting, insiders around town are starting to report on what Jefferson’s camp is seeking in an extension.

According to Darren Wolfson (KSTP, SKOR North) on Mackey & Judd (Tuesday), JJ and his representation will seek the highest contract ever signed by an NFL player who doesn’t line up under center and throw the football for a living (21:30 mark — transcribed below).

Judd: “[Justin Jefferson’s contract extension] is a long way, in my opinion, from ‘slam dunk’, ‘easy-peasy’. It should be, it won’t be.”

Doogie: “No, it won’t be when we’re talking about making him the highest paid non-quarterback. So, not only the highest paid wide receiver but also the highest paid, every other position outside of quarterback. He’s got some powerful agents, he really does. From a powerful agency. They’re not going to mess around. They’re just not. They’re well aware that the cap will continue to go up, up, up. I’m just telling you, they are going to chase the largest contract in NFL history for a non-quarterback. So, are the Vikings willing to dance with those terms. We’ll find out soon enough.”

Mackey & Judd Show – SKOR North

As mentioned earlier in Doogie and Judd’s conversation about Jefferson, his agents are expected to meet with the Vikings in just a couple of weeks (Feb 27 – Mar 6), at the NFL Combine.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah recently called JJ’s upcoming extension talks “champagne problems”, a unique version of the more widely known expression, “a good problem to have”. He’s right and the Vikings, smartly, have done everything in their power to make a Jefferson extension appear inevitable.

Who is the highest paid non-QB right now?

How much will extending JJ realistically cost, though? Well, for months (if not years) it’s been widely accepted that, at just 24 years old when eligible, Justin Jefferson would reset the market for NFL wide receivers.

Now that we know his goal is to be the highest paid non-QB in the league, we can attach real numbers to that estimate. Comparing and contrasting NFL contracts isn’t as simple as you’d think, however.

That’s because there are three ways player salaries are calculated, compared and discussed. Let’s take a quick look at all three and who currently stands atop the non-QB money mountain (#’s via Spotrac.com).

Total Value & AAV

“Total Value” is the maximum worth of a signed contract, should the player play out the entire term of his deal, something that rarely happens.

  • The largest total value contract ever signed by a non-quarterback is Khalil Mack’s (EDGE – Chargers) current deal, worth $141 million.

“AAV” (Average Annual Value) is the total value of a contract (above) divided by how many years the deal runs for. Simple math. This number will matter to JJ’s team as well, you can be sure of that.

  • Aaron Donald’s (DL – Rams) is playing under the highest non-QB AAV contract ever signed, at $31.7 million per season.
Fully Guaranteed (Fully Guaranteed at Signing)

But a contract’s “total value” and “AAV” won’t matter to Jefferson nearly as much as this last number. If JJ is smart (he is) and has a good negotiating team around him (he does), the number he’ll be most focused on is the “Fully Guaranteed” or “Guaranteed at Signing” number.

You’ll hear it mentioned either way but both phrases mean the same thing. When X player signs on the dotted line, the “fully guaranteed” money is the amount X player is absolutely guaranteed to receive, even if he is cut early. This number is different and more absolute than “total guaranteed” (see here).

  • The non-QB contract with the most ever fully guaranteed money belongs to TJ Watt, whose current 4-year deal included $80 million ($20M/yr) guaranteed at signing.

In comparison, Mack’s contract — largest ever total value — had a six-year term and only included $60 million ($10M/yr) fully guaranteed at signing. Aaron Donald’s 3-year contract — most ever AAV –included $46.5 million ($15.5M/yr) fully guaranteed.

justin jefferson minnesota vikings contract extension largest non-qb nfl history
Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn – USA TODAY Sports
So what will Jefferson demand?

If I’m Justin Jefferson’s representation, I’m demanding my client’s contract values break non-QB records in all three measurement categories mentioned above or he’s taking his talents to the Canadian Football League (just kidding, but if you want to know what’s different between the CFL and NFL, read about it at RealCasinoCanada.com). That would mean a new deal worth (as of Feb. 15):

  • > $141 million in “Total Value”
  • > $31.7 million in “AAV”
  • > $80 million “Fully Guaranteed”
    • ~ $20M/YR

My prediction: Jefferson lands a 5-year, $160 million contract ($32 million AAV) with $100 million ($20M/yr) fully guaranteed at signing.

What about the salary cap?

We didn’t touch on yearly salary cap hits because those can be manipulated by the Kwesi & Co, depending on how they want to structure the deal.

It will likely include triggers that allow the Vikings to convert salary into signing bonus throughout the course of the deal, which will allow them future cap relief when needed, much like we will see the Vikings do this summer with Brian O’Neill.

I’d expect his initial cap hit in 2024, when the new contract hits the books, to be less than $20 million. The highest years, probably years 3 and 4, will be $40+ million when the deal is initially written.

Worth every penny.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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