Vikings' Justin Jefferson primed to become NFL’s highest-paid WR

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Will Justin Jefferson become NFL’s highest-paid WR this offseason? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

“If they want me here, I’m here.”

That was part of Justin Jefferson’s answer to a question about whether he wanted to remain in Minnesota long term following the Vikings’ season-ending playoff loss to the New York Giants.

Jefferson cemented his status as not only the NFL’s best wide receiver in the 2022 campaign, but also one of the game’s top players overall.

The 23-year-old put together his third consecutive 1,000-yard season, tallying career bests in receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809) while catching eight touchdowns. He led the league in receptions, receiving yards, receptions of 20-plus yards (28) and first-down catches (80) en route to a First Team All-Pro nod and his third Pro Bowl selection.

The question now is whether Jefferson will be paid like the best player at his position.

Is Justin Jefferson on a rookie contract?

After being selected 22nd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, Jefferson is still on his rookie contract.

How long is Justin Jefferson’s contract with the Vikings?

The LSU product has two more years remaining on his rookie deal, assuming the Vikings will exercise his fifth-year option in 2024.

How much money does Justin Jefferson make?

Jefferson’s rookie deal has an average annual salary of $3.3 million. He had a base salary of $1.8 million in 2022 and that’s set to rise to $2.4 million next season.

But Jefferson is now eligible for an extension for the first time, and some of the game’s top receivers landed big-money deals ahead of the 2022 season after they had played out three seasons of their rookie contract.

Terry McLaurin landed a three-year, $68.4 million extension from the Washington CommandersA.J. Brown secured a four-year, $100 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles after not coming to an agreement with the Tennessee Titans. DK Metcalf signed a three-year, $72 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks following a training camp hold-in and Deebo Samuel also held in before inking a three-year, $71.6 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers.

Should Jefferson and the Vikings follow suit by getting a deal done before Year 4, what could the contract look like?

Who are the NFL’s highest-paid wide receivers?

Tyreek Hill is currently projected to be the NFL’s highest wideout in terms of average annual salary next season. The Miami Dolphins gave Hill a four-year, $120 million deal ($30 million average) after acquiring him for the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason.

Davante Adams has the second-highest average annual salary at $28 million, followed by DeAndre Hopkins, Cooper Kupp and A.J. Brown.

Here’s a full look at the top 10 wideouts in average salary for 2023:

1. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins: $30 million

2. Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders: $28 million

3. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals: $27.3 million

4. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams: $26.7 million

5. A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles: $25 million

T-6. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills: $24 million

T-6. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks: $24 million

8. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers: $23.9 million

9. Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders: $22.8 million

10. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers: $20.6 million

Jefferson has a very strong case to receive a deal in excess of $30 million per year and become the league's highest-paid wide receiver. We'll see this offseason whether or not the Vikings agree.

All salary numbers via Spotrac