Sources: Justin Jefferson, Vikings agree to 4-year, $140M deal

June 3, 2024, 11:19 AM

The Minnesota Vikings and star wide receiver Justin Jefferson have agreed to a four-year, $140 million contract extension that includes $110 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN. The deal makes him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history.

The deal, which was negotiated by WME Football, includes $88.743 million due at signing. The Vikings announced Monday morning that Jefferson agreed to an extension that runs through the 2028 season but did not disclose financial terms.

"The time has finally come. The deal I've been waiting for since I was a little kid," Jefferson said in a video posted to Instagram. "Being doubted my whole career. Not being highly recruited. Not being the first receiver off the draft board. This whole journey wasn't easy for me. ... To be given a gift to play football at the highest level, it's a blessing. It's an honor."

Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in a statement that Jefferson has "earned this contract, and we are thrilled he will remain a Minnesota Viking for a very long time."

"From the moment I arrived in Minnesota, Justin has consistently proven to be one of the best players in the NFL on and off the field and we are excited about having him as a cornerstone of our team for a long time to come," Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said. "He is the living embodiment of our culture with his joyful dedication to process and our goals. We couldn't be more excited for Justin and his family."

Jefferson also thanked his parents, his brothers, his agent and the Vikings' front office staff, coaches and fans in the Instagram video.

"Y'all set the tone. Y'all set the mood. Y'all set the energy," Jefferson said in the video. "And I'm definitely excited to set the energy for five more years. ... This is the start of it, but we ain't done yet. Just wait."

The day before the 2023 season started, Jefferson declined a contract offer from the Vikings that would have paid him over $28 million annually. The three-time Pro Bowler instead bet on himself, and the bet paid off, with Jefferson's four-year extension averaging $35 million per season. That average annual value is $1 million more than the previous non-quarterback record for San Francisco 49ers pass-rusher Nick Bosa.

There were multiple teams this offseason that inquired about Jefferson, according to league sources. But the Vikings let each one of them know they had zero intention of trading Jefferson, who is off to a historic four-year start in the NFL.

Adofo-Mensah said at the NFL scouting combine in February that a Jefferson trade never crossed his mind -- even if it would help him trade up for a quarterback in the draft.

"We think he's the best wide receiver in the league and should be compensated as such," Adofo-Mensah said at the time. "We think he's one of the best non-quarterbacks in the league and think he should be compensated as such."

Since being selected by the Vikings with the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 draft, Jefferson has 392 receptions for 5,899 yards and 30 touchdowns.

The 2022 Offensive Player of the Year, Jefferson has averaged 98.3 receiving yards per game -- the most in NFL history for any career span -- and his average of 6.5 catches per game is the second highest of any receiver in his first four seasons.

"Justin is an exceptionally talented player and an incredible person that I am honored to coach and have as a team captain," Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said in a statement. "His positive energy and love for the game shows up every single day as he works to be the best at his craft. As coaches, we will do our part in helping him maximize his ability. I'm grateful to the Wilfs, Kwesi, [Vikings executive VP of football operations] Rob Brzezinski, and our staff for ensuring one of the brightest stars in professional sports will continue his career as a Minnesota Viking."

Jefferson, who turns 25 later this month, will now lead the Vikings into their next generation of offense after they replaced quarterback Kirk Cousins with free agent Sam Darnold and first-round draft pick J.J. McCarthy this offseason.

Jefferson repeatedly endorsed Cousins' return over the past year but never said it would be a factor in whether he would re-sign with the Vikings. He has not commented publicly on Cousins' departure or on the decision to acquire Darnold and McCarthy. But McCarthy said Jefferson -- known by many around the team as "JJ," texted him shortly after the draft.

Jefferson set an NFL record for most receiving yards in the first three seasons of a career (4,825) and then eclipsed 1,000 yards in 2023 despite missing seven games (and parts of two others) because of injuries. His 1,074 yards in 2023 were the most ever by an NFL player who had played 10 or fewer games in a season.

Jefferson was the fifth receiver selected in the 2020 draft and a well-timed replacement for Stefon Diggs, who was traded to the Buffalo Bills a month earlier. Some teams reportedly believed Jefferson would be limited to a slot role, but the Vikings viewed him as an all-position receiver when they took him at No. 22 overall.

In an in-house video that quickly went viral, then-GM Rick Spielman was seen laughing when the Philadelphia Eagles took receiver Jalen Reagor at No. 21, clearing the path for the Vikings to select Jefferson.

ESPN's Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.