As Justin Jefferson awaits big contract, he stays away from Vikings' voluntary workouts

Justin Jefferson was not in attendance at the start of the Vikings' voluntary offseason program. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

It's not a surprise that Justin Jefferson isn't at the Minnesota Vikings' offseason workouts, and the workouts are technically voluntary.

Still, everyone understands the situation.

Jefferson is looking for a contract extension that is likely to set records for a receiver and perhaps any non-quarterback. It's likely his absence from offseason workouts is related to that.

"We want him here as much as we can have him but also understand there are a lot of factors involved," Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell told the media Monday, via KSTP.

Those factors include the nine figures that Jefferson is likely to get very soon on his second contract. Jefferson has 5,899 career yards, the most for any receiver through his first four NFL seasons. He also won NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2022. He's arguably the best receiver in the NFL and going to get paid as such.

Justin Jefferson headshot
Justin Jefferson
WR - MIN - #18
2023 - 2024 season

On the surface it's not a big deal that Jefferson isn't with the team. He also skipped the voluntary part of the Vikings' offseason in 2023, though he showed up for the mandatory minicamp. It remains to be seen if he'll be at the mandatory minicamp this offseason with the pressure on to get a new deal done.

"My hope is we can get him around the team," O'Connell said. "Obviously such a special player, but it goes beyond that, especially this time of year because of just the energy and the flat out way he comes in this building and goes to work and his teammates respond to him."

On Monday, Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith agreed to a three-year, $75 million deal, and Jefferson will blow that away. Nothing against Smith, but Jefferson is on a different tier. Tyreek Hill is the only receiver with a deal that's worth $30 million per season, and it's very likely Jefferson wants more.

Jefferson's desire for a new contract is one of the biggest remaining stories of the NFL offseason. His absence from Vikings workouts will keep that at the forefront of the team's thoughts, not that it needed a reminder.