NFL Trade Rumors: Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson Skipping Voluntary Offseason Program

The Minnesota Vikings and their superstar pass catcher are at an impasse. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Justin Jefferson is absent for his team's voluntary offseason program.

Jefferson is entering the fifth-year option of his rookie contract and is set to earn $19.75 million this season. He's been extension-eligible since last offseason and is clearly getting anxious to close a deal.

Jefferson is off to arguably the hottest start the wide receiver position has ever seen: Through his first 60 appearances, he's averaged a preposterous 98.3 receiving yards per game, the most ever of any player with 200 or more receptions. Even more amazingly, that's 12.2 yards per game more than the second-best mark, held by Detroit Lions legend Calvin Johnson, who averaged 86.1 receiving yards per game over 135 appearances in his Hall of Fame career.

Simply put, Jefferson has a real chance to go down as one of the greatest wide receivers of all time and is already flirting with excellence we haven't seen since the days of San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice. Unfortunately for the Vikings, it appears keeping him on the team will require a monumental, precedent-shattering deal.

As of now, the biggest wide receiver contract in the league is Tyreek Hill's four-year, $120 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. Hill is the only player in the league who is near Jefferson's equal at the position, but his deal was signed in 2022 when the NFL's salary cap was $208.2 million; it has ballooned all the way to $255.4M in the years since.

The highest-paid non-quarterback in the league is San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa, who signed a five-year, $170M extension following 2022's Defensive Player of the Year campaign. Jefferson may well be worth even more than that.

As the cap continues to inflate, Jefferson's price will only go up. His leverage only increases the closer he gets to free agency. If the Vikings are unwilling to break the bank on Jefferson, some other team in the league will be happy to. Be it a trade or an extension, getting a deal done as soon as possible is in the Vikings' best interest.

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