Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson made the rounds on Wednesday, and we had the opportunity to do our annual pre-Super Bowl visit with one of the best — if not the best — receivers in football.
Four years into his career, Jefferson has yet to get the second contract he clearly deserves. But the Vikings were dragging their feet. At some point, the Vikings may regret this approach.
“You're not sure what to do, and you're not sure how much to take [to get the contract]“But I mean I'll always be myself,” Jefferson said. I will always continue to play the game the way I know how to play and I will always give everything I can on this field. I know the money will come. I know the contract is coming. I'll just wait patiently.
Is there a point where his patience will run out?
“You know, it gets kind of frustrating at some point of course, everything I did for the organization,” Jefferson said. “I'm still early in my contract, my rookie contract, but no one's done what I've done before. I'm just excited to just be a part of their organization and I hope they feel like I'm valuable enough to give me, it doesn't matter how many zeros, but I just want to play football.” And I want to be part of an organization that, you know, values me and wants me there.
Jefferson realizes that it's not just about the money, but the respect that money represents.
“That's what you have to keep in mind,” Jefferson said. “Of course, as I always say to everyone who asks me this question when you go out to buy a car, you try to pay as little as you can even though you know it's an expensive car. But you're going to try to get everything. So I know this is a business. I know they have Money in their pocket and they're trying to keep it. But I know the value that I have. I know what I bring to this team, and I know the value that I have every time I step on that field. So, I have confidence in my circle, the people I talk to on my behalf, and in the conversation with the contract. But, you know, I'll just let it take its course and keep doing what I'm doing.
Jefferson is being realistic, which is a good thing. But the Vikings have to be realistic, too. This is not a guy you're looking to sign in free agency to fill a need for a year or two. This is the foundational player for the face of the franchise. There will have to be exceptions, specifically regarding the team's “rule” that full guarantees will only apply to the year in which the contract is signed.
They made that exception for quarterback Kirk Cousins. If they wanted to keep Jefferson—if they wanted to keep him happy—they had to do it for him, too.
This will not set a bad precedent or put the team on a slippery slope. If other agents tried to get the same build, the response would be simple: When your guy plays like Justin Jefferson, we'll do it.
Pay close attention to this, Vikings fans. Your team is getting closer and closer to spoiling the dog. If they do, they should be held accountable.
Jefferson is ready and willing to sign the contract he deserves. The only question is whether ownership is willing to do the right thing.
Unless, of course, they plan to trade him in order to get in position to draft a quarterback. While this is a reasonable strategy on the surface, good luck getting people who buy tickets, t-shirts, and expensive food to say goodbye to a great recipient again.
Everyone knows the value of Jefferson. It's time for the Vikings to acknowledge that, and do something about it. Especially since it will become more expensive, the longer the team waits.
As he always does.
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