Only way the Vikings will trade Justin Jefferson during the NFL Draft

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson still does not have a contract extension, which has created speculation about a potential trade during the 2024 NFL Draft.
Indianapolis Colts v Minnesota Vikings
Indianapolis Colts v Minnesota Vikings / David Berding/GettyImages

A few hours before the 2024 NFL Draft, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson still does not have a contract extension.

The Vikings selected Jefferson with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and it didn't take long for him to adjust to the professional level. His 5,899 receiving yards are the most through the first four seasons of an NFL career. In 2022, he recorded 128 receptions for 1,809 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He missed seven games in 2023, but he became just the third player to record 1,000 receiving yards in 10 or fewer games. Jefferson was a first-team All-Pro and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2022, and he made the Pro Bowl in three of his four seasons.

Jefferson has established himself as one of the league's premier wideouts, but that won't matter if he doesn't have a consistent quarterback to build chemistry with. The Vikings still haven't found a long-term successor after quarterback Kirk Cousins signed with the Atlanta Falcons in free agency, and the 2024 NFL Draft is Minnesota's last opportunity to find their next starting quarterback.

The consensus top four quarterback prospects in this year's draft class — USC's Caleb Williams, LSU's Jayden Daniels, North Carolina's Drake Maye, and Michigan's J.J. McCarthy — will be out of reach for the Vikings, who currently hold the No. 11 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Minnesota stockpiled more ammunition by acquiring the No. 23 overall pick from the Houston Texans earlier this offseason. The two first-round picks could help Minnesota move within distance to grab McCarthy, but Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio has an alternative suggestion.

Mike Florio suggests Vikings should trade Justin Jefferson during NFL Draft

The Vikings uncertain future at the quarterback position has caused Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio to speculate that Minnesota may be open to trading Jefferson during the 2024 NFL Draft.

"Would Jefferson for the second overall pick (which would become Jayden Daniels), straight up, be enough?" Florio wrote. "Would the Commanders want more? They’d surely want the eleventh overall pick in order to get their own quarterback. Would Jefferson plus the eleventh overall pick in exchange for the second overall pick and the thirty-sixth overall pick get it done? How about the second overall pick and receiver Terry McLaurin?"

Minnesota would be wise to not make the same mistake as the Carolina Panthers. Last year, the Panthers traded away running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver D.J. Moore, then asked rookie quarterback Bryce Young to produce for them without any weapons.

Although the Vikings would still have other talent on their roster, Jefferson is one of the best skill position players in the league. Trading him for the No. 2 overall pick wouldn't make sense, especially when they can trade the No. 11 and No. 23 overall picks for a quarterback a few picks later.

Florio believes that it "all comes down to whether the Commanders would want Jefferson," but that's not necessarily the case.

The Vikings "came close" to extending Jefferson last offseason, according to The Athletic's Diana Russini, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah "aggressively rejected the idea of trading the star."

Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell was also asked about potentially trading away Jefferson during the NFL Scouting Combine, and he shut down the idea as well.

"I can tell you we have no intent to trade Justin Jefferson," O'Connell said at the time. "We have had zero discussions, dialogue about that either internally, externally, on this planet or another planet. I feel very strongly that Justin is best in his position in football. Any time you're trying to reset the receiver market -- we know who he is, we know what Justin's earned through his first four years in this league -- you know how hard it is. ... It was never gonna be something that was just be easy to get done, but the intent was there. The intent is still stronger than ever to get something done with Justin."

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