Vikings WR Justin Jefferson reportedly skips start of voluntary OTAs amid contract talks

Justin Jefferson was absent from Minnesota Vikings facilities on Monday amid contract negotiations and the start of voluntary offseason organized activities, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

The All-Pro receiver also missed voluntary offseason programs in 2023 while seeking a new deal. He reported to mandatory minicamp in June last year and played last season without coming to terms on an extension.

Assuming Jefferson misses the rest of this month's voluntary programs, the focus around his negotiations will shift to Minnesota's mandatory minicamp that runs from June 4-6. Will the two sides reach a deal before minicamp? If not, would he report this season without an extension in hand?

Justin Jefferson headshot
Justin Jefferson
WR - MIN - #18
2023 - 2024 season

Jefferson is approaching the last year of his five-year rookie contract and is due $19.7 million in 2024 on the fifth-year option exercised by the Vikings. He has earned $13.3 million on the previous four years of his contract.

A three-time All-Pro and the 2022 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Jefferson has emerged as arguably the best receiver in football in his four seasons. He has significantly outplayed his rookie contract since being selected with the 22nd pick by the Vikings in the 2020 NFL Draft and is due one of the richest non-quarterback contracts in the league.

Will Justin Jefferson and the Vikings reach terms on a contract extension? (Jeffrey Becker/Reuters)
Will Justin Jefferson and the Vikings reach terms on a contract extension? (Jeffrey Becker/Reuters)

Adding to the intrigue around his negotiations is newfound uncertainty at quarterback in Minnesota. Kirk Cousins left in the offseason to join the Atlanta Falcons after six seasons with the Vikings. Minnesota traded up to select Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy in April's draft. He'll compete with Sam Darnold for the starting job in the fall and is the presumed quarterback of the future.

Darnold has been relegated to NFL backup status after disappointing as the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2018. McCarthy's viability as an NFL starter is yet to be determined. Whoever wins the job this fall would benefit significantly from Jefferson's presence in the lineup. Signing him to a long-term deal is a top priority in Minnesota.

"We think he’s the best receiver in the league, and he should be compensated as such," Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in February while shooting down rumors that Minnesota was considering trading Jefferson.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed A.J. Brown to a three-year, $96 million contract with $84 million in guaranteed money in April, setting a new bar for wide receiver contracts that Jefferson will surely look to exceed.