- ESPN.com national NFL writer
- ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
- Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008
If there were any doubt about the Vikings’ plans for All-Pro receiver Justin Jefferson, who became eligible for a contract extension after finishing his third NFL season, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah cleared it up Tuesday.
“I don’t want to be the Vikings’ GM without that guy on our team,” Adofo-Mensah said while speaking to reporters at the NFL scouting combine. “So it’s a high priority. We’ve got to make sure we do in the order that we can do it in, obviously, given all of our other decisions we have to make.”
Jefferson led the NFL in 2022 with 128 receptions for 1,809 yards, the sixth-highest yardage total for a season in NFL history. His 4,825 career yards are the most ever for a receiver in the first three seasons of a career. But he has consistently downplayed the possibility of a massive contract extension, beginning last summer when he said: “I’m not really too fond of money.”
Asked in January about the possibility of a new contract, Jefferson said: “I mean if it comes, it comes. It comes with the success. It’s not really something that I’m really worried about or I have my mind set on.”
When asked at the time if he deserved to be the NFL’s highest-paid receiver, Jefferson said: “That’s not my decision. It is what it is. They pay me whatever they pay me. They don’t even really have to give me an extension this year. It is what it is. It’s not really something that I’m really worried about.”
Adofo-Mensah, however, indicated the Vikings will do everything they can — when they can — to get a deal done this offseason.
“He’s trying to put the Minnesota Vikings on his back,” Adofo-Mensah said. “He wants to win a championship. When you have people like that in your building, you try everything you can to not let them out.”
Meanwhile, Adofo-Mensah did not directly answer when he was asked if running back Dalvin Cook, who has a $14.1 million salary cap number for 2023, would remain on the roster.
“In the NFL you have a lot of constraints, salary cap different things, and we’re trying to figure out how we can operate in those things,” Adofo-Mensah said. “But you always start with a great player, great leader, and we’ll go from there.”
Adofo-Mensah spoke more positively about bringing back defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. The sides recently agreed to push out the void date on Tomlinson’s contract to March 15, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.
“We love Dalvin,” Adofo-Mensah said. “Whenever you have good players in your building, good people, you want to do everything you can to keep him. Obviously we have a lot of decision to make so we’re trying to buy ourselves a little bit more time, but … he’s a great guy, great player and we love him.”
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