June 15, 2024

Vikings Tried Moving Up for WR in NFL Draft, Trading Justin Jefferson: Report

The Minnesota Vikings have yet to sign Justin Jefferson to a long-term contract that is likely to make the wide receiver the richest non-quarterback in NFL history.

In fact, that could well have been the primary motivation behind a plan to trade him during, or after, last month’s draft.

Charley Walters of The Pioneer Press reported on Sunday, May 26, that the “buzz” in late April was that the Vikings wanted to move up from No. 11 and into the top five not to select a franchise quarterback, like many thought, but to secure Jefferson’s replacement in the form of former LSU wideout Malik Nabers.

“There was buzz at draft time that the Vikings wanted to move from No. 11 to No. 5, not to pick a QB but to get LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers, who was picked No. 6 by the [New York] Giants,” Walters wrote, per The Purple Persuasion X account. “Had that trade occurred, Jefferson would have been traded and Nabers would have been the No. 1 receiver.”

Justin Jefferson’s Contract Could End Up Prohibitive to Vikings’ Success

It is hard to imagine any team trying to move on from a three-time Pro Bowler, one-time All Pro and arguably the best receiver in the NFL at 24 years old and on the cusp of his prime. But if anything can motivate an organization into that line of thinking, it’s the kind of contract Jefferson is apparently trying to command.

Minnesota didn’t do itself any favors by waiting to extend Jefferson, as the league’s salary cap jumped $30 million from 2023 to 2024, which pushed the receiver’s value/negotiating leverage even higher.

“When this deal gets done, and I think it will eventually get done, it is expected to make Justin Jefferson the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history,” Adam Schefter said during a May 22 edition of “SportsCenter” on ESPN.

The San Francisco 49ers made edge rusher Nick Bosa the highest-paid non-quarterback in the sport when they signed him to a five-year contract worth $170 million total ($34 million annual average value). Based on Schefter’s reporting, that puts Jefferson’s asking price somewhere in the range of $35 million annually over at least five years.

As good as Jefferson has been, at some point any deal outpaces a player’s value in a salary cap sport that allows teams to spend only so much on the entire 53-man roster plus the practice squad. The league’s 2024 cap number is around $255 million per team, meaning if Minnesota gives Jefferson the deal Schefter says he wants, the receiver will assume nearly 14% of the franchise’s available contract funds.

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