That same type of player has been one who has taken the NFL by storm, having produced 5,899 receiving yards, 392 receptions and 30 touchdowns in just four seasons. Despite missing seven games with a hamstring injury, Jefferson still eclipsed 1,000 yards for a fourth straight year this past season. Eye-popping numbers and jaw-dropping catches have become a standard for Jefferson, who’s been eligible for an extension since last offseason and is likely to become the league’s highest-paid wideout whenever payday comes.
It’s a massive focus for the Vikings this offseason regardless of the future at QB, a point made by Jefferson on Wednesday and during the 2023 season. So, as the Vikings ponder re-signing Cousins or looking to another QB of the future, Jefferson isn’t sure if what happens under center will impact his next contract or not.
“I’ll really have to see if we really bring back Kirk or not, if we decide to want to draft, or want to pick up a quarterback,” Jefferson said when asked if he would pass on doing a deal this summer if there’s still uncertainty as to who the long-term QB will be. “All of that plays a part, but also, I still managed to get 1,000 yards by playing through four different quarterbacks as well, so it really doesn’t matter too much who’s throwing me that ball as long as someone’s throwing it to me. I feel like I’m confident and I have the ability to make plays, no matter if the ball is 100 percent accurate or if it’s a little behind or a little in front or a little off. So I’m always confident in my game, confident that I’m going to play the same no matter who’s going to throw me the ball, but of course, having Kirk out there to be that leader and that captain, to throw that ball with accuracy and precise as he does, it definitely is very valuable and useful being a receiver.”
It’s clear Jefferson wants Cousins back, but it’s just as clear that if Cousins doesn’t return, Jefferson has no doubts he’ll continue to produce. He did so in 2023 with Joshua Dobbs, Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall each filling in after Cousins tore his Achilles.
Thus, it’s safe to predict that 24-year-old Jefferson’s future is bright with or without the 35-year-old Cousins.
Taken 22nd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, Jefferson has quickly risen to star status, having won AP Offensive NFL Rookie of the Year with a then-Super Bowl-era record of 1,400 yards. In 2022, he collected his third Pro Bowl selection, first All-Pro accolade and led the NFL with 128 catches and 1,809 yards.
He knows his numbers. He knows his impact. And Jefferson knows his worth.
“I’m definitely aware of what I’ve been doing for the organization, what I’ve done ever since I stepped foot on this NFL field,” Jefferson said. “So, I’m definitely going to do what’s right by getting the amount that I feel I’m valued. I definitely will keep in mind the different stats and where I am as a player and as a receiver, so you know I’m going to definitely let the agent and all of that do all of the different negotiations and the different numbers, but I definitely would like and hope to be one of the highest-paid players, or especially wide receiver.”