Justin Jefferson’s next contract will be massive. Of that there can be no doubt. How massive is the only uncertainty.
Currently, Cooper Kupp is the receiver with the most guaranteed money attached to his deal: a whopping $75 million. When Kevin O’Connell was hired, there was a lot of discussion about Jefferson taking on the Kupp role. The basic idea was that he’d be featured as the key part of the offense, similar to Kupp with the Rams.
Well, we’re not even through one full season of the O’Connell/Jefferson partnership and it looks like Minnesota’s WR1 will soon overtake his LA counterpart, at least in terms of income.
Exploring Justin Jefferson’s Next Contract
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is going to have a difficult job during the offseason. Don’t let the strong record fool you: Minnesota’s roster is going to need a ton of work. Kirk Cousins is heading into another huge cap hit, Patrick Peterson has performed like a CB1 but will be a free agent, and there are several veterans who are currently competing for their roster spots.
In other words, difficult decisions will need to be made, and that’s before even considering adding talent from outside the organization.
Adding another layer of complexity to the whole situation will be the impending contract extension for the WR1. Justin Jefferson’s next contract will be among the top priorities during the offseason. It’s hard to envision him playing in 2023 without locking in some massive money. If there isn’t a new deal, Jefferson will carry a cap hit lower than $4.2 million next season, a minuscule amount within the world of elite NFL receivers.
A deal that comes in below any of the previously signed deals would be shocking. Indeed, the expectation ought to be that Jefferson will reset the receiver market, pushing the money to new heights. That’s what happens when one is only 23 and getting legitimate praise as already being better than Randy Moss. Count me among those who think that Moss still holds onto the top spot, but there can little debate about Jefferson’s ability and potential. If he continues playing like he has been, Jefferson will go down as the best receiver in franchise history.
If you looked for the contract that had the highest annual average – which is not a helpful way of evaluating contracts – then Tyreek Hill would come in at first overall with a $30 million per year average. The most guaranteed money belongs to Kupp with a $75 million total. The most fully guaranteed money – the “fully” is important – belongs to A.J. Brown at $56,470,471 million.
Forced to guess, I’d say Justin Jefferson’s next contract allows him to clear the guaranteed money for both Kupp and Brown. A deal with $80 million guaranteed with $60 million of it being fully guaranteed wouldn’t be at all surprising. That’s what happens when a WR puts together 3 elite seasons all before his 24th birthday.
Following the 2022 season and playoffs, the Vikings will officially begin their work toward contending in 2023. A major part of that will involve keeping their WR1 in town for the foreseeable future. Having a someone as talented as Jefferson obviously makes a huge difference on the field. It also helps to attract future talent; quite often, great players want to play with great players.
An elite player deserves elite money. Expect a record-breaking deal for Jefferson during the offseason.
Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap helped with this piece.