Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson did not sign a contract extension before Sunday’s opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday night.
Both sides made a strong effort to get a deal done, but the plan now is to revisit it after the season, sources told Schefter.
On Thursday, the All-Pro said that he would like a new deal but wasn’t sure it would happen before Sunday.
“Of course, I would want a contract to be done,” Jefferson said. “But at the end of the day, it is all up to them and what the ownership wants to do with that.”
Jefferson, 24, led the league last season in receptions (128) and receiving yards en route to setting an NFL record for most receiving yards (4,825) in the first three years of his career. He won the Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year award and was ranked as the second-best player in the league this summer by both ESPN and the NFL Network.
Jefferson took a decidedly nonchalant approach to the negotiations, starting in the summer of 2022 when he said he wasn’t “too fond of money” and thus largely unstressed about his financial future. He later implied that the ball was in the Vikings’ court, saying “the money stuff, that comes with the job,” and the Vikings went on to make clear that they had every intention to step up.
Speaking in February at the NFL scouting combine, in fact, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said: “I don’t want to be the Vikings GM without this guy on our team.”
Jefferson skipped the voluntary portion of the Vikings’ offseason program but reported for mandatory minicamp and then fully participated in every training camp practice, including two apiece with the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals. Neither side had established a hard deadline to the talks — in theory, Jefferson could have played this season at his salary of $2.4 million and then received a bump to $19.7 million in 2024 via his fifth-year option — but Adofo-Mensah acknowledged last week that some players prefer not to negotiate once the regular season begins.
Jefferson said Thursday that “at the end of the day, it is all up to them and what the ownership want to do with that.” But he acknowledged that his circumstances were unique.
“I’m in a different situation,” he said. “I’ve done something that no one has ever done in the history of the game. So my situation is a little bit different than everyone else’s. Of course, I’m going into my fourth year, trying to talk about contract two years early. There’s so many different parts that go in towards it. That’s why I leave it up to my agent and just keep my mindset on the field.”
Jefferson was the No. 22 overall pick of the 2020 NFL draft, selected largely as a replacement for receiver Stefon Diggs, whom the Vikings had traded to the Buffalo Bills. Jefferson ascended into the starting lineup for his third NFL game, catching seven passes for 175 yards and a touchdown against the Titans, and went on to finish with 1,400 receiving yards on 88 receptions.
He increased that yardage total to 1,616 in 2021 and 1,809 in 2022. The NFL record for receiving yards in a season is 1,964, set by the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson in 2012.