July 15, 2024

Justin Jefferson breaks silence on Kirk Cousins joining Falcons

During a Tuesday appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show,” Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson addressed whether or not he was surprised that quarterback Kirk Cousins left the club and signed a four-year, $180M contract that included $100M guaranteed to join the Atlanta Falcons in free agency.

“Yeah and no,” Jefferson explained, as shared by Joe Nelson of Fan Nation’s Inside the Vikings. “I always knew Kirk was going to do whatever he needs to do for his business-wise. I just knew that everything just wasn’t the way he wanted it to be here, especially with having to pay me and having to pay so many different guys. I felt like he just wanted a new start, a new opportunity to start with Atlanta and a clean slate.”

Some wondered if Cousins’ departure could result in Jefferson forcing his way out of Minnesota via a potential trade before, during or after the 2024 NFL Draft. Jefferson ultimately remained with the Vikings through springtime workouts and inked a historic four-year contract extension in June, making him the NFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback.

“I’m not mad at him at all for that,” Jefferson said about Cousins’ free-agency decision. “I’m grateful for what he has brought to me and the things we have accomplished together, but at the end of the day, it’s a business, and you gotta do what you gotta do for yourself and for your family. I clearly understand that. It’s onto the next.”

On the draft’s opening night, the Vikings moved up a spot to grab Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy with the 10th overall pick. McCarthy will enter training camp later this month, trailing veteran Sam Darnold in a competition that may already be over.

“They want me to be that guy that J.J. can always talk to and ask questions,” Jefferson added, per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. “He’s definitely that type of kid. He definitely wants to ask questions. He wants to learn how to be a top quarterback. He wants to learn how to become a problem in this league.”

Jefferson also vowed “to make it as easy as possible for” either McCarthy or Darnold to succeed this fall. Things often change quickly in the NFL, but it sounds like Jefferson will find himself catching passes thrown by Darnold when Minnesota opens the regular season with a game at the New York Giants on Sept. 8.