Breaking: Justin Jefferson Goes Viral After Vikings’ Decision as He Waits on An Extension…

A report suggesting that the Minnesota Vikings were interested in trading up for Malik Nabers in the NFL draft has created a rift with their star receiver, Justin Jefferson, regardless of its truth.

In the grand scheme of things, whether the report about the Minnesota Vikings possibly trading up for wide receiver Malik Nabers is accurate matters. But for this discussion, it doesn’t matter if the St. Paul Pioneer Press (and subsequent confirming outlets) heard it from a Vikings front office member or from Jefferson’s Sleep Number delivery man.

The idea that the Vikings liked another wide receiver and tried to trade for him—potentially making Jefferson expendable before they have to pay him what could be the largest receiver contract, and perhaps the largest non-quarterback contract in NFL history—now exists in the public domain. This notion has appeared like a storm cloud, affecting the atmosphere in which general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah operates. The Vikings can call Jefferson and assure him the report isn’t true, which they’ve likely done regardless of the report’s validity. But it’s up to Jefferson and his camp to believe it at this very sensitive time.

For the record, I support the idea of trading Jefferson and thought Adofo-Mensah should have done it before the draft. If the return for Jefferson is what some in the NFL believe it to be, the Vikings could have been better positioned to draft a future QB and a secondary wide receiver to pair with Jordan Addison, similar to how the Chicago Bears secured Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze.

Nevertheless, the Vikings chose to retain Jefferson as the receiver market surged following the A.J. Brown and Amon-Ra St. Brown deals. Now, it makes sense for Jefferson to wait for Ja’Marr Chase’s contract to conclude to maximize his value. This could mean missing training camp, a critical period for rookie J.J. McCarthy.

Now is the time to reflect on Adofo-Mensah’s predicament. His job involves pleasing numerous stakeholders while remaining loyal to ownership’s financial strategies. He’s likely being pulled in all directions, much like a vintage Gumby figurine. However, he has struggled with being overly strategic in many aspects of his job, particularly regarding Jefferson’s contract.

If the Vikings plan on keeping Jefferson, he should have been under contract by now, plain and simple. He should have been signed before the 2023 season began. Good, competitive teams serious about retaining young talent sign their players early as a show of good faith and understanding that the market will only rise (see: the Eagles with DeVonta Smith, the Lions with Penei Sewell and Jared Goff). The fact that Jefferson remains unsigned suggests the team explored a possible trade or replacement scenario more than the actual report itself.

We are now witnessing the consequences of leaving the situation unresolved. Such circumstances only complicate negotiations that should already be groundbreaking for receiver contracts. The Vikings are cornered: they’ve shown willingness to offer fully guaranteed contracts (see: Kirk Cousins), they want to legitimize a somewhat highly drafted rookie quarterback, and the NFC North is becoming more competitive with the Packers, Bears, and Lions all improving. Additionally, Christian Darrisaw will soon command a top-tier payday in the burgeoning offensive tackle market, now set at $28 million per season thanks to the Lions.

Everyone is watching, including Jefferson, who has yet to publicly show any displeasure with the Vikings on social media. However, one wonders how far off that next microaggression might be.

While Justin Jefferson Waits on An Extension, Vikings Are Looking Like the  Old Lions

There are situations where the complexities and hostile posture between both sides are understandable. Le’Veon Bell and Saquon Barkley are perfect examples, playing a dangerous position with high mileage. Jefferson, however, is the best player at his position, outperforming even Randy Moss in catches and yardage over his first four seasons. He has no equal.

This situation should have stayed within the traditional negotiation theater between a player’s agent and the team. Instead, the Vikings risk looking like the old Lions, a team that alienates its star players. True or not, the report about the Vikings possibly trading up for Nabers has pushed Jefferson further away.

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