Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson dazzles in final game before contract talks begin again

DETROIT — Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson made it clear last summer that he wasn’t going to talk about his business off the field while he was trying to handle his business on the field. He had no interest in discussing the fact that he and the Vikings were unable to agree to a contract extension ahead of this season. He was simply going to let his play do the talking and circle back at a later date.

It’s safe to say Jefferson showcased his value Sunday at Ford Field despite the Vikings officially missing the playoffs with their 30-20 loss to the Detroit Lions. He saved his best for last, finishing with 12 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown in his final game before contract talks begin again.

Never mind that Jefferson missed a couple of months this season with a strained hamstring. He still managed to eclipse 1,000 yards for the season while only playing in 10 games.

“Everything is going to happen the way it needs to happen,” Jefferson said. “I’m just going to continue to be myself and go out there on that field and give it my all.”

His performance Sunday spoke volumes. He went over the middle with no fear. He contorted his body to make an incredible catch along the sideline. He hauled in a 38-yard touchdown after beating his man off the line of scrimmage with relative ease.

“I’m very thankful to just be around a player like that,” veteran quarterback Nick Mullens said. “He’s an incredible talent.”

That talent has been on display on a weekly basis regardless of how opposing teams try to defend him. Just ask the Lions. They couldn’t contain Jefferson in either game this season as he finished the two meetings this season with 18 catches for 333 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“He was as dominant as any player in this league, and it didn’t matter the circumstances that we were in as a team,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said. “I absolutely love coaching the guy. He knows that. Hopefully we’re just getting started with him and where we’re going to take our offense.”

Though the Vikings struggled this season largely due to injuries, it’s pretty clear Jefferson still believes the future is bright. Asked if he felt like he could accomplish all of his goals in his current situation, Jefferson replied, “As long as I’m a part of the Vikings, I’m always going to think we have a chance at the Super Bowl.”

The only way to ensure that Jefferson sticks around is for the front office to come to the table. The price tag won’t be cheap considering Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill currently makes an average of $30 million per season. It’s a good bet that Jefferson is going to want more than that.

That’s fine. Nothing is too expensive to keep him around for the foreseeable future.

“I’m always going to continue to be myself and go out there and play football,” Jefferson said. “I’ll let all of the other stuff fall where it falls.”

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