Jun 3, 2024 - Sports

Why Justin Jefferson has become the NFL's highest-paid non-QB

Justin Jefferson makes a circle with his hand and holds it up to his eye

Justin Jefferson celebrates a win against the Chicago Bears in October 2022 in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Vikings are making Justin Jefferson the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL after agreeing to a four-year, $140 million extension, according to multiple reports.

Why it matters: The deal keeps one of the most electrifying athletes in a purple jersey through 2028 and provides rookie J.J. McCarthy the best tool a young quarterback could ask for.

By the numbers: With an average annual salary of $35 million, Jefferson has set a new bar for guys who don't throw the ball, surpassing San Francisco pass rusher Nick Bosa's $34 million average.

Table showing the NFL wide receiver contract with the greatest average annual salary is the Vikings' Justin Jefferson with $35 million, followed by the Eagles' A.J. Brown with $32 million and the Lions' Amon-Ra St. Brown with $30 million.
Data: Spotrac. Table: Simran Parwani/Axios

Between the lines: That's a boatload of money, but if you're going to give it to someone, Jefferson deserves it.

  • He has racked up 5,899 receiving yards since entering the NFL in 2020, the most a player has posted in his first 60 games.

Yes, but: Jefferson's value extends beyond the field. He is worshipped by fans, and there's barely a kid in Minnesota who doesn't know his Gritty dance.

  • He comes with none of the drama that star wide receivers often bring.
  • Watching Jefferson is worth the price of admission alone. Don't believe us? Look at this highlight reel of magnificence, including the legendary one-hander that led to a comeback win in Buffalo two seasons ago.

Plus: He's only 24, so the Vikings have locked down all of his prime years.

Our thought bubble: This is the kind of move the Vikings can make because they opted not to pay Kirk Cousins $45 million a year.

  • Promising left tackle Christian Darrisaw is also eligible for an extension, and the Vikings should have the financial flexibility to sign him to a massive deal as well.

The bottom line: If McCarthy can't succeed in the next year or two throwing to Jefferson and second-year wide receiver Jordan Addison, then he wasn't worth the No. 10 pick in the draft.

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