Justin Jefferson opens up about Kirk Cousins leaving the Vikings

Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson / David Berding/GettyImages

Ever since he was drafted in 2020, Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson has caught the majority of his passes in the NFL from veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins.

But next season, Jefferson will have to experience what life in a Vikings uniform will be like without Cousins starting under center, as the veteran signal-caller signed with the Atlanta Falcons earlier this year.

On Tuesday, the young Minnesota receiver appeared on "The Rich Eisen Show", and he revealed if he was surprised by Cousins' decision to leave the Vikings earlier this year.

"Yeah, and no. I always knew Kirk was going to do whatever he needs to do for his business-wise. And I just knew that everything just wasn't the way he wanted it to be [in Minnesota]. And especially just with having to pay me and having to pay so many other different guys.

I feel like he just wanted a new start, a new opportunity to start with Atlanta, and a clean slate. And I'm not mad at him at all for that.

I'm grateful for what he has brought to me and the things that we have accomplished together. But at the end of the day, it is a business, and you gotta do what you gotta do for yourself and for your family. And I clearly understand that."

Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson should be just fine in 2024 without Kirk Cousins

Heading into the 2024 season, some might be wondering what sort of impact Cousins' departure will have on the performance of Jefferson. Well, based on what we saw from the All-Pro receiver last year, it should affect him that much.

In the five games that Jefferson played with Cousins last season, he caught 36 passes for 571 yards and three touchdowns. In the five matchups without the Pro Bowl quarterback throwing to him in 2023, Jefferson accumulated 32 catches for 503 yards and two scores.

When one breaks it down to Jefferson's averages per catch and per target last season, he averaged 15.9 yards per reception and 10.8 yards per target with Cousins and 15.7 yards per catch and 10.7 yards per target without him starting under center. So, not really much of a difference.

Jefferson's numbers in 2023 without Cousins were also accomplished without the receiver really having much time to adjust to someone new starting at quarterback for Minnesota. During the upcoming season, he's already going to be much more used to the abilities of who the Vikings select to be their starting signal-caller for Week 1, whether it's Sam Darnold or rookie J.J. McCarthy.

Jefferson and Cousins accomplished a lot during their four years together, but the time had come for Minnesota to move on from the veteran quarterback, and thankfully, the team's star wide receiver completely understands why a move had to be made.

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