EAGAN, Minn. — Justin Jefferson rejoined his teammates on the practice field Tuesday morning. And a few hours later, the Minnesota Vikings‘ All-Pro wide receiver pledged to be with them when training camp opens in July — whether or not he has agreed to a contract extension by then.
“Will I be here?” Jefferson said. “Oh yeah. Yeah.”
Jefferson has two years remaining on a rookie contract that would pay him $2.4 million in 2023 and $19.7 million in 2024. He skipped the voluntary portion of the Vikings’ offseason program, including all of their OTAs, as his agent entered negotiations on a new deal that could make him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL.
But he reported for mandatory minicamp and participated Tuesday in individual and team drills, avoiding what would have been a mandatory fine if he had continued to stay away. There are no indications that the talks are acrimonious, and in fact, Jefferson said his contract was “not too much a part of” his decision to skip voluntary workouts.
“[Negotiations] happen every single year,” he said. “It’s not something that’s new towards the game. Eventually, we knew we were going to have to talk contract.”
Instead, he attributed his absence to a slew of marketing and endorsement opportunities, combined with minimal pressure from the Vikings organization.
“I had a lot of stuff going on,” Jefferson said. “They didn’t really force me to come back too, too much. It didn’t seem like I was missing too, too much. They definitely wanted me back here, and I wanted to be back here, but had a lot going on.”
The only Vikings player who did not attend minicamp was pass rusher Danielle Hunter, who is entering the final year of a contract that would pay him a $4.9 million base salary along with a total of $500,000 in gameday roster bonuses. Hunter is subject to a $16,459 fine for missing Tuesday and an additional $32,920 if he misses Wednesday’s second and final day.
Hunter hasn’t spoken publicly about the situation, but on Tuesday coach Kevin O’Connell said he hopes the situation can be salvaged.
“I definitely see that as a real outcome,” O’Connell said, “but there is a lot to be determined and I want to be very sensitive to allowing that situation to play out both for our organization and for Danielle.”
Vikings’ Justin Jefferson pledges to be at camp amid negotiations