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The Nick Bosa Extension Has Thrown a Wrench in the Vikings’ Contract Negotiations With Justin Jefferson

Don’t be surprised if it takes a while for an extension to get done.

Minnesota Vikings v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Less than a week ago, there was optimism that the Minnesota Vikings and Justin Jefferson would agree to a deal before the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune said on the Access Vikings podcast: “Every indication that we have is that [a deal] looks on track to be done by this weekend.” It is now less than 24 hours before kickoff, and an extension has yet to be announced. So what’s the hold-up?

Nick Bosa’s record-breaking extension threw a wrench in the Vikings’ contract negotiations with Justin Jefferson. The San Francisco 49ers gave Bosa a five-year, $170 million dollar extension with $122.5 million guaranteed. That is now the baseline for a Justin Jefferson extension, and it’s very likely he’ll want a lot more than that.

Jefferson recently said that he wants to sign a new contract but also recognizes that his situation is different from others like Nick Bosa. “I’ve done something that no one has ever done in the history of the game. So my situation is a little bit different than everyone else’s. Of course, I’m going into my fourth year, trying to talk about contract two years early.” Jefferson said. “Of course I would want a contract to be done. But at the end of the day, it is all up to them and what the ownership want to do with that.”

The big takeaway here is that Jefferson wants a historic deal that would blow Nick Bosa’s deal out of the water. Jefferson doesn’t seem to view himself as the next player at a premium position to demand a market-rate contract which makes him the highest-paid player at his position for a couple of months. Oh no, no, no. Jefferson likely views himself as the best player in the entire league, the most marketable player in the league, a once-in-a-generation talent, and a future first-ballot hall of famer. And he wants to be paid accordingly.

What’s more interesting is the subtle hint towards Vikings' ownership to get a deal done. Remember, the Vikings already have a contract offer on the table. The issue isn’t that the Vikings haven’t offered Jefferson an extension, it’s that the deal currently on the table isn’t good enough anymore. Earlier in the week when the Vikings put an offer on the table for Jefferson, Bosa was willing to continue his holdout into the 2023 regular season until the Niners met his contractual demands. San Francisco couldn’t afford to have Nick Bosa sit out games since they’re in win-now mode, so they caved and gave him that historic deal. That really changed things on the Jefferson front.

It’s also worth mentioning that Nick Bosa and Justin Jefferson are represented by the same agency in WME, albeit by different agents. Both Bosa’s and Jefferson’s representatives were well aware of the fact that the other player wanted to be the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history. Neither Bosa’s agent nor Justin’s agent had any incentive to help a different client by signing first. This was very much a standoff between Nick Bosa and Justin Jefferson in regards to who would blink first, and Jefferson’s camp won.

Aside from being able to demand more money because of the Bosa deal, Jefferson has quite a bit of leverage over the Vikings' front office and ownership. The Vikings’ entire plan to re-tool the roster revolves around Justin Jefferson being in Minnesota long-term. Kirk Cousins is in a contract year, and the team is poised to find his replacement after this season. The Vikings are gonna need Jefferson and other weapons on offense to help aid the development of their young franchise quarterback. Kwesi’s and Kevin’s job security will be tied to how they handle the succession plan at quarterback, and it’s a lot easier for a young signal-caller to play well with Jefferson than without.

In the unlikely event that Kwesi got cold feet and refused to give into Jefferson’s demands, the Wilfs would undoubtedly put pressure on Kwesi to get a deal done. Not only is Jefferson the Vikings’ best player, but he is arguably the most marketable superstar in the entire league. Without Jefferson, fan interest would take a big hit, along with ticket and merchandise sales. That’s not to say Vikings fans wouldn’t show up to games or buy merch, but it would be a tougher sell for casual fans or bandwagon fans. Believe it or not, there are some people who are crazy enough to jump on the Vikings bandwagon. God bless them.

So what does this mean for the Vikings? It means that Justin Jefferson has quite a bit of leverage over the front office and ownership, and he’s gonna use that leverage to maximize his payout. I don’t think he’ll hold out or miss games necessarily, but I do think it’s possible that he’s willing to wait another year before putting pen to paper. Until Justin Jefferson signs that eventual record-breaking extension, all of Vikings nation will be on edge.