Vikings’ Justin Jefferson has a new goal: to become first NFL receiver with 2,000-yard season

There have been eight 2,000-yard rushing seasons in NFL history. There never has been a 2,000-yard receiving season.

Justin Jefferson wants to be the first to reach that milestone.

“I hope so,” the Vikings’ star wide receiver told the Pioneer Press. “I think I can. Hopefully, everything goes right and I can get that 2,000. That’s my goal.”

In 2000, Jefferson caught 88 passes for 1,400 yards, the second-most in NFL history for a rookie and the most since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Last season, with the schedule expanding from 16 games to 17, Jefferson had 108 receptions for 1,616 yards.

Only two NFL receivers have reached 1,900 yards in a season. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson had a record 1,964 yards in a 16-game season in 2012, and Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams had 1,947 in last year’s 17-game season.

“That would be big,” Jefferson said becoming the first to reach 2,000. “Just breaking the record my rookie year and then also breaking a record in my third year, that would be crazy for me. That’s going to be a goal for me, for sure.”

Jefferson will report to training camp Tuesday along with all remaining veterans after 31 rookies and select players reported Sunday. The first full-squad practice is scheduled for Wednesday at the TCO Performance Center in Eagan.

Jefferson made some news earlier this month when he said in an interview with that he is the second-best receiver in the NFL behind Davante Adams of the Las Vegas Raiders — and that he will surpass Adams after this season. He hasn’t backed down from that.

“Of course. I mean, that’s the goal,” he said. “That’s the confidence level, and I just feel like with the year that I’m going to have that. I’ll be the best receiver.”

So why doesn’t Jefferson believe he’s the best now?

“Just because all that Davante Adams has done,” he said. “I’m just showing my respect for him but agree that after the year I’ll pass him.”

What about Kupp, who was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2021 and led the NFL in receptions (145), touchdown catches (16) and yards (1,947)?

“Coop is good, but I’ll say he’s behind me,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson has no doubt he’ll “be better” in his third season, especially with Kevin O’Connell expected to open up the offense after taking over as head coach for run-oriented Mike Zimmer.

“(O’Connell) can do a lot,” Jefferson said. “He’ll put me in different positions, put me in motion, put me in different spots to get the ball, So we’re excited about this new offense. I feel great about all the different coaches coming into the building. Everybody’s having a great connection with all the players.

“We’re definitely all excited about the new people coming in and what we’re going to bring to the table. I feel like this year, with the new coaches, we’re more laid back, we’re more comfortable with the new coaches. I just feel like with the new style of offense, I think it’s going to be great for us.”

In last season’s finale against Chicago, with the Vikings already eliminated from the playoff race, Jefferson caught five passes for 107 yards to fall 16 yards shy of Randy Moss’ team record of 1,632 in a season. While there would have been a chance for Jefferson to break that record in the 31-17 win, Zimmer said afterward, “I don’t care about records. All I care about is wins.”

Jefferson said after the game it was “definitely tough” to not get the record, but he’s gotten over it.

“I wasn’t even too much worrying about it then,” Jefferson said. “It is what it is. At the end of the day, I was just going to break it the next year.”

Jefferson wants to not just break the team mark, but shatter it. And count fellow Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn as one who believes he can reach 2,000 yards.

“I feel he can do anything he can put his mind to,” Osborn said. “I’m excited to play next to him, and I can’t want to see him do it.”

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