Justin Jefferson Ready to Ride With Kirk Cousins or Without

Photo: Kareem Elgazzar - USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, life at TCO Performance Center will start moving a lot faster. That’s the day the Minnesota Vikings are expected to officially hire Rams offensive coordinator, Kevin O’Connell, as their new head coach. They’ll also start quickly filling vacancies on O’Connell’s staff, while simultaneously prepping for huge 2022 roster decisions that will need to be addressed in short order.

And that’s when they’ll come face to face with the biggest and most important elephant in the room. While other contracts technically need to be addressed sooner, the Vikings must decide early on (if they haven’t already) what to do with their $45 million cap hit quarterback, Kirk Cousins.

There are two realistic options. Kwesi & Co. can (a) trade him and save $35 million against their salary cap or they can (b) extend him, pushing some of that $45 million into the future.

What Does Justin Jefferson Want?

And if you ask Vikings superstar receiver, Justin Jefferson, what he wants them to do — which is exactly what Zach Gelb (CBS Sports) did on his radio show Tuesday — he’d love to have Kirk stay. But JJ seems content with whatever decision is made on who will throw him the ball next season or going forward. In fact, he rides the personal/professional fence in an impressive manner.

“With the new head coach and new GM, nobody’s expecting anything, at this moment. If he’s there, great. I love Kirk,” Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson told The Zach Gelb Show on Tuesday. “I love Kirk as a person, I love Kirk as a quarterback. He’s been doing a tremendous job with me, ever since I got into the league. So, I definitely wouldn’t mind him staying. I love Kirk. But if the GM and head coach want to go a different route, then that’s on them.”

“At the end of the day, I don’t make the decision. I’m just here to play football and I’m going to give it my all, no matter who the quarterback is. I honesty do [think we can win a Super Bowl with him]. Kirk is an outstanding quarterback… I feel like Kirk just needs to go out there and have fun with it — just have that confidence, have that swagger. Trust in his playmakers to get the ball, and do what they have to do. So, I’m happy for this upcoming year.”

Justin Jefferson – The Zach Gelb Show (CBS Sports Radio)

JJ’s Opinion Matters

One of the biggest arguments for a Kirk Cousins extension is the development of Justin Jefferson. It’s unlikely the Minnesota Vikings find a quarterback via trade, free agency or the draft who can feed JJ like Cousins has already proven he can.

Pushing Jefferson’s development and maintaining his happiness in purple should be one of the biggest priorities of the new regime. If he likes Kirk throwing him the ball, they should keep his thoughts in mind when making their decision. Remember, a Kirk Cousins extension doesn’t have to mean we’re married to him for the next three years.

It might be easy for Justin Jefferson to welcome whatever decision the new regime makes on Kirk Cousins now. But that won’t be the case midway through next season, if his new QB can’t get him the ball or operate the Minnesota Vikings offense at an NFL level.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan