Justin Jefferson Absent From Vikings’ Offseason Program Amid Contract Drama

Justin Jefferson wants a new contract, and he didn't attend the start of the Minnesota Vikings' voluntary offseason program. What does it all mean?

With rumors surrounding his future in Minnesota, Justin Jefferson didn’t attend the start of the Vikings‘ voluntary offseason program on Monday. It’s a newsworthy development for the NFL‘s best receiver, who is eyeing a new contract. But what does it all mean?

Justin Jefferson Skips Start of Vikings’ Offseason Program

Jefferson also skipped the voluntary portion of the Vikings’ offseason program in 2023 — including OTA practices — before attending mandatory minicamp. Whether he’ll attend this year’s minicamp or hold out is anyone’s guess, but Jefferson wasn’t in the building Monday for the start of Minnesota’s voluntary program.

“He is not here today,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell told reporters Monday afternoon. “But remains to be seen what the rest of the program looks like.”

O’Connell also offered his personal feelings on Jefferson’s absence.

“Taking it a day at a time,” O’Connell said. “I’ve had a lot of great dialogue with Justin throughout even the early part of this offseason, and leading up (to this week). So, my hope is we can get him around the team. He’s obviously such a special player.

” … Want him here as much as we can have him. But also understand there’s a lot of factors involved and, like I said, there’s nobody I love having more around on a daily basis.”

Jefferson’s absence might mean nothing. Again, he skipped voluntary team activities last year but never officially held out. He’s fully within his right to skip voluntary workouts. Plus, it’s become increasingly common for star players to skip voluntary sessions as they negotiate new contracts.

Nevertheless, Jefferson’s absence won’t do anything to quiet speculation on his Vikings future.

What’s Jefferson’s Contract Situation?

Jefferson is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Vikings picked up his fifth-year option last offseason, locking him in for the 2024 campaign.

However, the 24-year-old is the best receiver in football and wants to be paid like it.

“I want to break the bank, and I want to be a part of an organization that wants me and to really give me what I deserve,” he said during a radio appearance in early February. “I feel like, eventually, the Vikings will do what they need to do to have me in the building, but I don’t really know at this very moment. Only time will tell.

“I feel like I have the right people in my circle to negotiate and do what’s right. I feel like this whole process of how we handled things and how we went accordingly with the season and the contract stuff, I feel like we did a great job with it.”

Tyreek Hill currently is the NFL’s highest-paid receiver, with an annual salary of $30 million. Last year, Jefferson reportedly turned down an offer for a contract that would’ve exceeded Hill’s.

Ultimately, this story probably ends with Jefferson landing the largest contract for a receiver in NFL history.

Could the Vikings Trade Jefferson?

Jefferson is an incredible player, but that doesn’t mean the Vikings are willing to pay his price. The uncertainty has led to rumors about a possible trade involving Jefferson before or after the 2024 NFL Draft.

While at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah strongly shot down the possibility of trading Jefferson.

“I’ve promised [Jefferson’s camp], and I will continue to promise them, that I will not talk about our negotiations,” Adofo-Mensah said. “I think this job should be done with integrity, so a lot of this stuff that I hear is completely false, but I can’t get up here and tell you what’s not true and not false because that’s not how I promised to do this job.

“But I will tell you that we’re excited to have him and continue those conversations because he’s somebody we want around for a long time.”

KEEP READING: Justin Jefferson Involved in Vikings’ Search for a QB

For now, Vikings fans can only take Adofo-Mensah at his word.

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