NFL Trade Rumors: Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson Nearing "Market-Altering" Deal

The Minnesota Vikings and their superstar pass catcher are ready to do business. Appearing on SportsCenter, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler revealed the Vikings are "pretty motivated" to get an extension done with three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Justin Jefferson and could potentially make him the league's highest-paid non-quarterback to do so.

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 has clearly established himself as a player worthy of a market-shifting contract.

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 for 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.

The richest wide receiver contract in the league belongs to Philadelphia Eagles standout A.J. Brown, who signed a three-year, $96 million extension earlier this offseason. Jefferson is younger (24 to 26), more efficient, and more productive than Brown. He should easily exceed Brown in total guarantees and annual average.

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 know what's good for them, they'll sign Jefferson to as long a deal as possible, even if the sticker shock is tough to swallow initially. 

In 2020, the Kansas City Chiefs signed all-world quarterback Patrick Mahomes to an unthinkable 10-year, $450 million contract. At the time, it made him comfortably the highest-paid quarterback in the league, yet the inflation of the market has meant his annual average has already plummeted to the ninth-highest among quarterbacks. Now, the Chiefs have Mahomes locked up all the way to 2032 at a relative bargain. If any non-quarterback is worth a similar investment, Jefferson could be it.

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