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Justin Jefferson to Patriots was a fun pipe dream that never had wings

Justin Jefferson is staying with the Minnesota Vikings on the richest non-quarterback contract in NFL history. So much for the long-shot speculation of the New England Patriots pulling off a blockbuster trade for the best receiver in football.

Those days are over.

On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Jefferson agreed to a massive four-year, $140 million deal with $110 million guaranteed to stay with the Vikings. It’s a contract fit for a king, and Jefferson is clearly deserving of every dime the Vikings are willing to throw in his direction.

As for the Patriots, they absolutely could have used Jefferson’s production on the field. ESPN’s Mike Clay recently projected for them to have the worst receiving corps in the 2024 season, despite the additions of Ja’Lynn Polk, Javon Baker and K.J. Osborn in the offseason.

But for a team like New England that needed help at a multitude of different positions, it’s hard to justify putting all of that money into a receiver, when they aren’t in a position to do so right now.

The Vikings are banking on J.J. McCarthy working out, but if he doesn’t, they’ve basically strapped themselves to a monster receiver contract with a much worse quarterback situation. Their commitment to giving Jefferson this much money is proof that they likely never considered trading him. It was always at the top of their to-do list to extend the best player on their roster.

From the Patriots’ perspective, that trade likely would have included the No. 3 overall pick of the 2024 NFL draft. So they would have missed out on Drake Maye, who has an exceptionally high ceiling as the next potential franchise quarterback.

Not only did they get Maye, but they boosted various positions, while also re-signing in-house talent with expiring contracts. And even after all of those moves, they’re still one of the richest teams in the league in salary cap space.

It’s a great position to be in for a rebuilding franchise looking to get back to playoff contention. Jefferson playing in New England was fun to think about, but it was never a realistic possibility.

Given the price of his new deal, that’s probably a good thing for the Patriots.

Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire