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Vikings give Justin Jefferson NFL’s richest non-QB contract

Vikings give Justin Jefferson NFL’s richest non-QB contract


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Justin Jefferson became the latest player to cash in on the league-wide push for elite pass catchers.

Matching the historic start to his career, Jefferson will be paid — for now — like no one else at his position.

The Minnesota Vikings and their superstar wide receiver agreed Monday to a four-year extension, the richest contract in NFL history for a non-quarterback.

Jefferson will get $110 million guaranteed in the deal that’s worth as much as $140 million, with more than $88 million due at signing.

“We ain’t stopping here,” Jefferson posted on Instagram along with a video package of highlights and shout-outs in honor of the contract. “There’s more to be done.”

Jefferson, who has the most receiving yards in league history through a player’s first four seasons, had entered the final year of his rookie deal. The two sides came “unbelievably close” to an extension last summer, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said earlier this spring.

Jefferson missed seven games last season with a hamstring injury and still reached 1,074 receiving yards. The 2022 AP NFL Offensive Player of the year was the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 draft out of LSU.

“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,” Adofo-Mensah said in a statement distributed by the Vikings. “He is the living embodiment of our culture with his joyful dedication to process and our goals.”

Jefferson’s annual average of $35 million per year on the new deal passed that of San Francisco defensive end Nick Bosa ($34 million), whose contract extension before last season was negotiated by the same agency, William Morris Endeavor, that represents Jefferson.

The wide receiver market has been as hot as ever lately.

Jefferson became the eighth player at the position to get a new deal this offseason with an annual average value of at least $23 million, following A.J. Brown (Philadelphia), Amon-Ra St. Brown (Detroit), Jaylen Waddle (Miami), DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia), Nico Collins (Houston), Michael Pittman Jr. (Indianapolis) and Calvin Ridley (Tennessee). There were only six others before this year with annual average values that large: Tyreek Hill (Miami), Davante Adams (Oakland), Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams), D.K. Metcalf (Seattle), Deebo Samuel (San Francisco) and Terry McLaurin (Washington).

There are currently 15 quarterbacks, according to salary data compiled by the Over The Cap website, with higher average annual values than Jefferson.

The timing of the extension for the Vikings couldn’t be better — the day before their mandatory minicamp and slightly less than two months before the beginning of training camp.

With the departure of quarterback Kirk Cousins to Atlanta via free agency and the arrival of first-round draft pick J.J. McCarthy, the Vikings can ensure the national champion from Michigan will be well-stocked with pass catchers as he develops, with wide receiver Jordan Addison and tight end T.J. Hockenson in place as prolific complements to Jefferson.

McCarthy will be on a rookie contract for the next four or five seasons, making it much easier for the Vikings to keep premium players around him at other positions as they try to compete in an NFC North that’s suddenly loaded with young talent and promising futures.

“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,” Jefferson said. “Lastly, to Vikings fans everywhere, you’ll continue to get my very best each and every day. Skol!”

TOP PHOTO: FILE – Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) attempts a catch against Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. Jefferson didn’t score on the play. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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