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Zulgad’s Roundup: Justin Jefferson might not be “fond of money” but he’s about to strike it rich

Vikings Football
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson speaks to the media during the NFL football team’s training camp in Eagan, Minn., Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Justin Jefferson surprised many when he said, “I’m not too fond of money,” during a press conference on Wednesday, but the Vikings’ standout wide receiver made it clear that he is focused on becoming the best player in the NFL at his position. That means when he’s eligible for a contract extension after the 2022 season he will want to be paid like other top wide receivers.

Jefferson can’t be blamed for this. The one way NFL players measure their place in the league is by how much they are paid. It’s Jefferson’s good fortune that the price tag on top wide receivers has skyrocketed this offseason.

The list starts with new Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill, who was traded by Kansas City and will make $30 million in 2022 on a four-year, $120 million contract with $72.2 million guaranteed. The rest of the top five includes former Packer Davante Adams, who was obtained by the Raiders and signed to a five-year, $141.25 million deal that will pay him $28.25 million this season; the Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins, who will earn $27.25 million in 2022; former Viking Stefon Diggs, who will make $26 million with Buffalo; and the Eagles’ A.J. Brown, who signed a four-year, $100 million deal after being traded by the Titans and will make $25 million.

Seattle’s DK Metcalf is sixth on the list after getting a three-year, $72 million extension this week. He will make $24 million in 2022 and received a $30 million signing bonus, a record for a wide receiver.

Why should Jefferson expect any less? It won’t be about greed with him, it will be about status and respect. Jefferson has been outstanding thus far — his 3,016 receiving yards are an NFL record for the most in a player’s first two seasons — and he is expected to play a larger role in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

Jefferson also has turned into one of the Vikings’ leaders at the age of 23, and is incredibly unselfish at a position where many players only think about what’s best for them. Put it all together and you have a guy headed for a huge payday. Even if that isn’t his primary goal.

  • Vikings’ second-round rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., and 2020 third-round corner Cameron Dantzler have both looked  good in the opening days of training camp practices. The pads don’t come on until Monday, so this is a small sample size in a controlled environment. Nonetheless, it’s an encouraging sign to see the young corners looking sharp.
  • It sounds like nothing is close but the Vikings remain interested in free agent veteran defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson and Ndamukong Suh. Both likely will wait and see if a team has injury issues at that position before signing anywhere.
  • Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s comments to USA Today about the quarterback position were a refreshing dose of honesty about a position the franchise struggled to get right under former general manager Rick Spielman. For some reason, Mensah’s comments became a controversy when they were spot on. Kirk Cousins isn’t an elite quarterback but teams are hesitant to make changes at the position because of a fear of getting a player who is worse, and many QBs are worse than Cousins. Adofo-Mensah should be applauded for speaking the truth in a league where very few people actually say what they think or think for themselves.
  • If you missed it, Adofo-Mensah, talking about making changes, said, “The one asset where you get nervous about not burning it down is quarterback.” He also noted, “We don’t have Tom Brady.” “We don’t have Pat[rick] Mahomes.” If anyone with the Vikings is upset about this, they should bring back Spielman and Zimmer immediately. Otherwise, give Adofo-Mensah credit for sharing an honest opinion. That should happen far more often.
  • It has been nearly seven months since Zimmer was fired and yet we haven’t heard a word from the Vikings former coach. Spielman, who did everything in his power to avoid the local media, has done numerous interviews. Zimmer, meanwhile, has taken the blame (from many) for just about everything that went wrong and has yet to defend himself. It’s odd. Mike, pick a reporter you respect and set the record straight about your time in Minnesota.
  • Scoopmaster Darren “Doogie” Wolfson of SKOR North and KSTP-TV reports that Reds righthander Tyler Mahle is his “betting favorite” to be a starting pitching acquisition for the Twins by the trade deadline on Tuesday. Doogs also reports the Twins are linked to Marlins righthander Pablo Lopez, who would cost plenty. The 26-year-old is 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 20 starts this season and is under team control through 2024. The 27-year-old Mahle is 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 18 starts and remains under team control through 2023.
  • Considering the amount of teams pursuing pitching help, the Twins are going to have to pay a high price to acquire any legitimate help at the deadline. This goes for relievers as well and that’s another area where the Twins are in desperate need to help. The Twins can’t compete with some bidders when it comes to prospects in their farm system, which means the asking price is likely to be guys like Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda and Trevor Larnach.
  • “A Slap Shot In Time: The Wild but True History of the Minnesota Fighting Saints” of the WHA by Dan “Whenesota” Gaisbauer is now available through Amazon’s website. If you’re not aware of the Saints’ brief but rich history playing on the site of what is now Xcel Energy Center, this is your chance to find out.
  • I’ve said this for a long time. The Wild should get the NHL to allow it to have a WHA throwback game in which they wear Saints jerseys and either the Oilers or Jets (two WHA teams) wear their throwbacks as well. I guarantee the Saints jerseys would be a huge hit and would provide another revenue source, meaning the NHL and the Wild would love it. (Yes, old time hockey fans the original Jets are in Arizona but let’s not worry about that.)
  • Signing Brett Favre out of “retirement” was the key to the Vikings making the 2009 NFC title game, but the 2008 trade for defensive end Jared Allen should not be forgotten. Allen had spent his first four seasons in Kansas City and had some off-the-field issues, but the Vikings were willing to pay a big price for him and also reward him with a rich contract. It worked out well for both sides as Allen provided the Vikings the type of pass-rushing presence they had lacked for several seasons. Allen had 14.5 sacks in each of his first two seasons in Minnesota and ended up with 85.5 sacks in six years with the Vikings. On Friday, it was announced Allen will be inducted into the Vikings’ Ring of Honor this season. He’s the first player that was acquired during the Wilf ownership years — Randy Moss being reacquired for one month in 2010 doesn’t count — to go into the Ring of Honor.