5 reasons why the Vikings aren't going to trade Justin Jefferson

Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Minnesota Vikings and Justin Jefferson have been working on a contract extension for almost two years, but if you’ve logged on to social media, the idea of trading the star receiver just won’t die.

From the usual “Top Five Trade Destinations for Justin Jefferson” video on TikTok to speculation from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, a potential trade has been a hot talker thanks to Jefferson’s desire for one of the largest contracts for a non-quarterback in NFL history.

But while there are some benefits to trading Jefferson, there are several reasons why it makes more sense to keep him around.

Why the Minnesota Vikings aren't going to trade Justin Jefferson

1. Trading Jefferson would weaken the Vikings’ infrastructure

The Vikings are in a transition phase after Kirk Cousins signed with the Atlanta Falcons last spring, but the biggest reason they feel that they can stay competitive is the strength of their supporting cast around a young quarterback.

“I think it’s obviously out there and the results of quarterbacks and different things like that…but we also look at the environment and are we setting the person up to succeed,” Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said during his pre-draft press conference in April. “When we talk about these players, it’s not just how good they are. It’s how do we get the best version of themselves if they come to the Minnesota Vikings, and we set up plans before they walk into the building.”

The Vikings went on to select J.J. McCarthy with the 10th overall pick, and it’s hard to envision a scenario where they don’t see throwing the ball to Jefferson as a good thing. As McCarthy picks up the offense, having the benefit of throwing it up to Jefferson when all else fails isn’t a bad emergency option and could help McCarthy’s acclimation to the pro game that much easier.

2. A Justin Jefferson trade wouldn’t bring back enough

A key omission from Jefferson trade rumors is considering how a deal would help the Vikings. While some people believe that Minnesota would get multiple first-round picks, similar to a deal seen in a Madden franchise mode, players don’t usually command that haul unless they are a quarterback.

You could compare Jefferson’s situation to the one Tyreek Hill was going through in the spring of 2022. The Kansas City Chiefs balked at Hill’s contract demands and decided to trade him but only received a 2022 first-round pick (No. 29 overall), a 2022 second-round pick (No. 50), a 2022 fourth-round pick and fourth- and sixth-round picks in the 2023 draft from the Miami Dolphins.

While this is still a big haul, the Dolphins didn’t go completely crazy because they still had to give Hill a four-year, $120 million contract extension with $72.2 million guaranteed. It’s why the New York Jets were also in the mix but didn’t offer a first-round pick and instead focused on an equal value according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Jefferson is younger than Hill but would require a larger financial investment, which could leave any deal short of the fans’ expectations.

3. Replacing Justin Jefferson is harder than you think

Another argument for trading Jefferson is that each draft class has a deep pool of NFL-ready receivers. While Puka Nacua was the latest late-round gem to break out last season, it also doesn’t account for the fact that Jefferson is a generational talent.

Jefferson’s first four seasons have broken multiple franchise records once held by Randy Moss and set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons. Jefferson is also one of five players in NFL history with over 1,000 yards in each of their first four seasons, joining Moss, A.J. Green, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas.

Kevin O’Connell designed his offense around Jefferson when arriving in Minnesota in 2022 and Jefferson’s presence helped others such as Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson produce at an elite level.

Even if the Vikings viewed Malik Nabers as a potential replacement, it’s unlikely he would match the type of impact that Jefferson had in his first four seasons.

4. Trading Jefferson would be a public relations nightmare

With Cousins signing with the Falcons this offseason, Jefferson has become the face of the franchise in Minnesota. While some would argue this took place a long time ago, Jefferson is the one player that all fans can connect with and simultaneously agree on his impact on the team.

This seems like a minor thing but public perception has been a big key since the Wilf family bought the team in 2005. The Vikings have rarely gone in the tank since the Wilfs took over, and the goal of being “super competitive” also doesn’t seem to fall in line with trading the best player on the team.

Jefferson’s contract won’t be cheap – and could cost over $100 million in guaranteed money according to SI’s Albert Breer – but just like a $100 nosebleed ticket at U.S. Bank Stadium, Jefferson makes it worth the price of admission.

5. The Vikings have already hinted that the contract is almost done

Sometimes, debunking a rumor just requires following the paper trail. Adofo-Mensah said he didn’t want to be the Vikings’ general manager without Jefferson on the roster in February 2023 and that the two sides got “unbelievably close” to completing an extension prior to last season at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

Vikings owner Mark Wilf also reiterated his desire to keep Jefferson in purple during an interview with NFL Network during the league’s owner meetings last March.

“We had great positive conversations last season, and we’re looking forward to more positive conversations this offseason,” Wilf said. “Justin Jefferson is a unique talent. Best in the game, and we’re excited that he’s a Minnesota Viking. And not only is he a great player, he’s become a great leader of our locker room, and he’s great in the community, so the thrills he gives the fans on the field and just the way he carries himself. We’re looking forward to some real positive conversations.”

This doesn’t sound like a player that the Vikings are going to balk over keeping him around but it hasn’t stopped trade rumors from popping up all over the internet. At this point, it appears likely a deal will get done, leaving TikTok creators and aggregators to move on to the next story.

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