Souhan: Why Jefferson's deal makes sense for all

Justin Jefferson's record-setting contract is many things.

Important. Historic. Impressive. Encouraging. Eye-popping.

But when the news broke on Monday morning that the Minnesota Vikings were going to pay their star receiver $140 million over four years, there was one thing it shouldn't have been:


Despite months, if not years, of silly speculation about the Vikings trading Jefferson, or Jefferson wanting to leave the team, this deal was never not going to happen.

The Vikings are not fools. Their ownership is not cheap. They were never going to let Jefferson leave, or force him to leave, after he produced the best first four years of any receiver in NFL history.

This wasn't Stefon Diggs fake-coughing his way out of town.

This wasn't Randy Moss walking off the field during a game at Washington, and behaving in a way in the team facility that forced the Vikings to trade one of the greatest receivers who ever lived.

Jefferson has been a model teammate, player and worker. Those looking for a fault on the field are left to overanalyze every wince or head shake that occurs on the sideline during a loss.

The deal also dispels another myth: that Jefferson's fate was tied to Kirk Cousins. Jefferson and Cousins worked well together, but Jefferson and his advisers were never going to let a good relationship with a pretty good quarterback dictate Jefferson's earning power or place of employment.

Jefferson is smart enough to know that he is playing in an ideal system and playing for ideal coaches. They want to surround him with talent, but not to lessen his impact on the offense. They can and will "scheme" him open.

This is a great deal for the Vikings, because they keep a great player. This is a better deal for Jefferson.

He not only becomes, however temporarily, the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history, he also signed a deal that will theoretically allow him to hit free agency at the prime age of 29.

The best guess is that, if he remains healthy, the Vikings will find a way to keep him long term, but he will probably be in line for a contract that will make this contract look like it was written by somebody named Scrooge.

The only real question remaining regarding Jefferson is how he'll handle working with Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy.

Maybe he'll wince or shake his head on the sideline if this becomes a rebuilding year, a year dedicated to getting McCarthy acclimated to the league.

One of the reasons the Vikings are willing to pay Jefferson this much is that they expect him to help Darnold and McCarthy, as a receiver and a teammate.

And he will.

If Darnold is capable of being an NFL starting quarterback, he'll have every chance to prove himself in this offense, with Jefferson making his life easier.

If McCarthy is the right quarterback for the Vikings, Jefferson will speed his development.

Irrational Minnesota paranoia and rational Vikings paranoia combined to create all kinds of nightmare scenarios regarding Jefferson.

None of them were realistic.

This deal was always going to happen, and it shouldn't be surprising that it happened just in time for Jefferson to work with Darnold and McCarthy at practice this week.