4 blockbuster Justin Jefferson trades that would rock the league

The star receiver has just one year left on his rookie deal and is looking for a record-shattering extension. Could the Vikings really be looking to trade him?

Kansas City Chiefs v Minnesota Vikings
Kansas City Chiefs v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages
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The NFL recently announced that the salary cap would be exploding next year to $255.4 million, an unprecedented increase of over $30 million. Many cash-strapped teams are celebrating this fact, as it increases the chances they can retain their in-house talent that might have been cut or allowed to walk in free agency. The Minnesota Vikings, on the other hand, may not be quite as jubilant.

The Vikes have been staring down the barrel of Justin Jefferson's looming extension. While it's tough to argue with the young star's production, it's another thing to be willing to fork over a deal that, even before the salary cap increase, was reported to be in the neighborhood of five years, $150 million. For a non-quarterback, that's a monumental sum.

Charley Walters of the TwinCities.com Pioneer Press has believed ($) all offseason that a Jefferson trade not only could happen, but would be the right move for the Vikings, as they are also facing a difficult decision with quarterback Kirk Cousins, who at 35, is coming off a torn Achilles and is now an unrestricted free agent.

There's merit to the suggestion. Minnesota came back to earth after winning the NFC North with a 13-4 record in the 2022-23 season, falling to 7-10 and missing the playoffs on the heels (no pun intended) of injuries to Cousins and Jefferson that caused both stars to miss around half the season. They are now clearly behind the Lions, who reached the NFC Championship, and the Packers, who have seamlessly transitioned into the Jordan Love era. Even the Bears, who have been bringing up the rear of the division, are on the rise thanks to a young, ascendant defense and an arsenal of capital in the upcoming draft.

Walters wrote again in the Pioneer Press ($) about Jefferson's status on Saturday, saying, "Meanwhile, steam continues that the Vikings could make Justin Jefferson available for trade."

With the NFL combine beginning and free agency and the draft in the not-so-distant future, the time is right for the Vikings to make a move if they decide to pivot into a rebuild. Still, it's not every day that the game's best receiver switches teams. What are some of the trades that would rock the league?

4. Justin Jefferson to the Jets for three first-round picks

The Jets are like that player at the poker table that everyone is waiting on to give their money away. They've been up 24 hours straight, they've had too much to drink, and they just finished a heated phone conversation with their wife who wants them home ASAP. Everybody knows that they're going to push all-in, the only question is who is going to take their stack?

In predictable Jets fashion, the team's trade last offseason for Aaron Rodgers blew up in a spectacular way. Rodgers played four snaps before being lost for the season, leaving Robert Saleh and company to make do with Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle, and Trevor Siemien, which went about as well as one would expect.

With Rodgers healthy (though now 40 years old), and the team 14 years removed from its last playoff berth, the Jets will only be more desperate to field a winner in 2024. Owner Woody Johnson confirmed as much earlier this month, saying, "This is it. This is the time to go. We've got to produce this year."

Expect the Jets to spare no expense to make that happen. Rodgers has pushed to be reunited with former Packers running mate Davante Adams, but with word out there that Jefferson, who is seven years Adams' junior, could be available, maybe the Jets channel John C. Reilly from Step Brothers and go for the young calf instead of the old bull.

Pairing Jefferson with Garrett Wilson would give the Jets the most explosive wide receiver tandem in the league, and both players are still in the infancy of their NFL careers, meaning they could be scoring touchdowns long after Rodgers shuffles off to his post-career darkness retreat.

Even with Jefferson set to break the bank next year, the Vikings could ask for the moon from the Jets, and they may just get it. New York still has its first-round pick this year, No. 10 overall, because Rodgers went down so early and the second-rounder they sent to the Packers didn't get upgraded. That's a good starting point for a trade, and Minnesota could probably extract first-rounders in 2025 and 2026, as well.

The Jets were one of the most hyped teams last offseason thanks to the arrival of Rodgers and the team's appearance on Hard Knocks. Adding Justin Jefferson to the mix would make all that seem quaint, while the Vikings would have a three-year path back to contention.