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Justin Jefferson, Vikings agree to terms for contract extension

By Craig Peters

Backdropped by a wall of his personal football memorabilia, Justin Jefferson eased into a chair, ready to let the whole world know about his newest footprint on NFL history.

"The time has finally come — the deal I have been waiting for since I was a little kid," he began in a video message he posted at 8:18 a.m. (CT) today, matching the minute to his No. 18 Vikings jersey.

He noted how people had doubted him in high school and the 2020 NFL Draft but focused on those who believed in him.

Their support through good and bad helped during his journey to the highest contract for a non-QB in NFL history, a four-year deal that will be added to the final year of his rookie contract. Once signed, Jefferson will be under contract through 2028.

"First off, I want to thank the man above. Without God, this wouldn't be possible at all," Jefferson said. "To be given a gift to play football at the highest level, it's a blessing, an honor.

"To my mom and dad, thank you. This is a journey for all of us, and y'all are still with us every step of the way," Jefferson added. "To my brothers, Rickey and Jordan, y'all are everything. Y'all made me who I am today. This is a new step in our journey, a new step in life. I always dreamt of this moment and to now share it with all of y'all — a dream that we all had, it's a blessing."

Jefferson also thanked the Wilf family ownership group of the Vikings, Head Coach Kevin O'Connell, General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the fans for setting "the tone, the mood, the energy."

Jefferson added the following statement in a press release from the team.

"I would not be in this position if not for my family and their support. I'm so thankful for them instilling a foundational gratitude and competitive fire within me," Jefferson said. "I'd like to thank the Wilf family, Kevin O'Connell, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the entire Vikings organization for believing in me and trusting me to help lead this team. To all my teammates and coaches from the very beginning as a kid in Louisiana, all the way to the NFL, thank you for always being there for me and pushing me. Lastly, to Vikings fans everywhere, you'll continue to get my very best each and every day. SKOL!"

The Vikings did not detail the financial terms of the contract but did confirm it does set a record among non-quarterbacks.

The extension made good on Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell publicly stating their commitment to this desired outcome multiple times.

"We are elated to sign Justin, and I want to thank him, his family, his representation, our staff, specifically [Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Rob Brzezinski and [Manager of Football Administration] Emily Badis, and the Wilf family for helping complete this monumental contract," Adofo-Mensah said. "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. 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."

O'Connell added the following:

"Justin is an exceptionally talented player and an incredible person that I am honored to coach and have as a team captain. 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, Rob Brzezinski and our staff for ensuring one of the brightest stars in professional sports will continue his career as a Minnesota Viking."

Jefferson will be able to build on the historic start to the 2020 first-round pick's career in which he's recorded 392 receptions for 5,899 yards and 30 scores. Those stats already rank 10th in franchise history in receptions and eighth in yards. His receiving touchdowns are tied for 9th with Stefon Diggs, whose trade by Minnesota netted the selection used for Jefferson.

"Over the first four seasons of his career, Justin entrenched himself as the best wide receiver and one of the most electric players in the NFL," Vikings Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said. "He is a special talent, a committed teammate and an excellent representative of the Vikings. Justin has earned this contract, and we are thrilled he will remain a Minnesota Viking for a very long time."

Across the NFL since 2020, Jefferson ranks sixth in receptions, second in yards and is tied for 11th in touchdown catches, even though he missed seven full games in 2023.

Jefferson returned from his Week 5 hamstring injury last season to finish with 68 receptions for 1,074 yards and five touchdowns. While those were single-season career lows for the three-time Pro Bowler and 2022 First-Team All-Pro, they were still impressive and extended his streak of consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards to four.

He joined Michael Thomas (2016-19), Mike Evans (2014-17), A.J. Green (2011-14) and Vikings Ring of Honor member Randy Moss (1998-2001) as the only players in NFL history to open their careers with four consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards. Evans has hit that mark in each of his 10 NFL seasons. Moss did so in each of his first six campaigns, and Green reached the milestone in each of his first five.

Jefferson also set a career high with 107.4 receiving yards per game in 2023, topping his league-leading average of 106.4 in 2022.

In that first season with O'Connell, Jefferson led the NFL with 128 receptions and 1,809 yards, smashing franchise records set by Pro Football Hall of Famers Cris Carter (122 receptions in 1994 and 1995) and Moss (1,632 in 2003). He became the youngest player in NFL history to lead the league in both categories.

According to Next Gen Stats, Jefferson led the NFL in catches and yards on passes with a completion probability of 50 percent or lower in 2022. NGS calculated 28 of Jefferson's receptions in 2022 fit that category and resulted in 621 yards (more than one-third of his yardage total). Seattle's DK Metcalf ranked second with 24 such catches, and Diggs ranked second with 512 yards on such catches that season.

Jefferson also led the NFL with 22 contested catches in 2022 (per Pro Football Focus) and 643 yards after catches (per NGS) on the way to winning Offensive Player of the Year honors from The Associated Press. He joined Fran Tarkenton (1975) and Adrian Peterson (2012) as the only Vikings players to claim that honor.

He reeled in an ESPY for his one-handed snag at Buffalo and received a ranking as the No. 2 player in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2023, as well as a similar designation from ESPN.

Oh yeah, there's also Jefferson's membership in the elite Madden 99 Club and his selection by teammates as one of eight team captains for 2023. He'll be a central figure in Netflix's Receiver docuseries scheduled for release later this summer.

The St. Rose, Louisiana, native was selected First-Team All-Pro in 2022 by The Associated Press and was named to the Second Team in 2020 and 2021. He is the first player in NFL history to have 1,400 yards in each of his first three seasons.

Originally selected by the Vikings in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft, Jefferson has played in 60 career games (57 starts) and has totaled 100-plus receiving yards in 29 games, including 223 at Detroit in December 2022 to set a new Vikings record in a regular-season game.

Jefferson's 29 games of 100-plus yards rank second behind Moss' 30 through five NFL seasons, so he needs just two such games this season to break another record. Moss played in 80 games through his first five seasons.

Jefferson will turn 25 on June 16.