Fact or Fiction: Paying Justin Jefferson $110 Million Guaranteed Is a Smart Move

That’s a lot of money during a period in which the supply outweighs the demand for receivers, but the Vikings were smart to make the receiver the highest paid nonquarterback in the NFL.
Jefferson reset the wide receiver market with his historic contract extension.
Jefferson reset the wide receiver market with his historic contract extension. / Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it’s time to tell your kids to play wide receiver after the massive four-year, $140 million contract Justin Jefferson received from the Minnesota Vikings. 

Or maybe don’t tell your kids to play the position because there are too many good wide receivers out there and the price tag could soon drop, similar to what has happened to the running back market. 

BREER: The Real Winners in the Justin Jefferson Contract

It’s all confusing, especially considering Jaylen Waddle’s recent contract extension with the Miami Dolphins might look better than the deals Tyreek Hill and the Las Vegas Raiders’ Davante Adams agreed to two years ago. 

Let’s analyze some of these wide receiver contracts for this week’s “Fact or Fiction.” 

Vikings were smart to pay WR Justin Jefferson $110 million guaranteed 

Manzano’s view: Fact

The Vikings and Jefferson agreed to terms on a record-breaking, four-year contract extension with a whopping $110 million guaranteed. That’s a lot of money during a period in which the supply outweighs the demand for the position. 

The Vikings know very well how beneficial it can be to trade a top wideout for a first-round pick. That’s how they landed Jefferson, via the Buffalo Bills’ No. 22 pick from the Stefon Diggs trade in 2020. Minnesota could have gone that route again after lengthy contract negotiations that started more than a year ago. 

But here’s why the Vikings were smart to agree to make Jefferson the highest-paid nonquarterback in the league: He might be the best skill player in the league and the Vikings need him to help with the development of quarterback J.J. McCarthy, this year’s first-round pick. There’s an argument for not paying top wide receivers, the same way teams avoid splurging on veteran running backs. But there are exceptions, similar to when the Carolina Panthers paid running back Christian McCaffrey $16 million annually and the San Francisco 49ers were willing to take on that contract in exchange for valuable draft picks. “CMC” is special and so is the receiver known as “JJettas.” 

Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle is the fifth-best receiver in the league 

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle
Waddle had 72 catches for 1,014 yards and four touchdowns last season. / Jim Rassol / USA TODAY NETWORK

Manzano’s view: Fiction 

With Jefferson resetting the wide receiver market, the five highest-paid wide receivers in the league based on average annual value are Jefferson ($35 million), Philadelphia Eagles’ A.J. Brown ($32 million), Detroit Lions’ Amon-Ra St. Brown ($30 million) and Dolphins teammates Hill ($30 million) and Waddle ($28.25 million).  

Now, if we were to rank these wide receivers based on production and skill set, Jefferson and Hill would be at the top and there could be a case made for Brown and St. Brown near the top five. Waddle hasn’t been as consistent as those playmakers and might be more of a top-15 wide receiver. But the Dolphins think highly of Waddle, giving him $76 million guaranteed. That’s more than Hill, who received $72.2 million guaranteed, and more than Adams’s $65.7 million guaranteed. Waddle’s total value of $84.75 million falls well below Hill’s $120 million and Adams’s $140 million, but guaranteed money is more important with NFL contracts.  

Waddle might not be a top-five wideout, but he’s a dangerous downfield threat who benefited from the wide receiver market increasing. It also makes you think about how the Dolphins can make it work with two expensive wideouts and Tua Tagovailoa waiting on a $50-million-plus contract extension. 

A London Super Bowl is a good idea

Manzano’s view: Fact

London mayor Sadiq Khan recently said he wants his city to host a Super Bowl. It’s not a bad idea because it would help grow America’s game. (I might have just made a point for those who are opposed to this idea.) The World Cup is heading to the United States in 2026, so it’s only right the biggest game in the United States goes overseas at least once. 

The time difference for American viewers shouldn’t be an issue because the Super Bowl could still have the standard 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff time. For those in attendance in London, that would mean the game would start around midnight, which could be a pretty cool experience. 

There are many pros and cons for a London Super Bowl, but it’s definitely worth consideration … if the weather is a sunny 75 degrees the entire week, says the writer from Los Angeles. 

Bills should have been higher on defensive triplets rankings 

Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano
Milano's 2023 season was cut short due to injuries. / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Manzano’s view: Fact

I do many NFL-related rankings for Sports Illustrated, so maybe my memory is not the best. But forming the list for our best defensive triplets might have been my toughest assignment. Most teams had at least one Pro Bowl-worthy player at each level (pass rushers, inside linebackers, defensive backs), leading to several tough decisions. 

I noticed the criticism for C.J. Mosley being tabbed as the Jets’ top inside linebacker over Quincy Williams, who’s coming off a first-team All-Pro season. The disapprovals were understandable, but I’m O.K. with this decision because of Mosley’s longevity of playing at a high level. He routinely records 100-plus tackles per season, generates impact plays and is a captain for one of the best defenses in the league.  

At second glance, the Bills’ defensive triplets being ranked 29th was way too low. (Yes, I noticed the outrage from Bills Mafia.) Initially, I focused too much on Matt Milano’s short 2023 season due to injury and dinged the Bills for it. He’s a fantastic player and the team was smart to sign him to an extension last year. Rasul Douglas only played eight regular-season games for the Bills, but he immediately made the defense better after being traded by the Green Bay Packers. Not sure where to place Milano, Douglas and Ed Oliver, but they’re not 29th. 

Maybe I’ll readjust the rankings midway through the season to give my editor more story ideas to throw at me. 

The proposal to change the NFL offseason calendar is terrible 

Manzano’s view: Fact 

I won’t spend too much time here because I’m stating the obvious. Nobody likes the reported proposal for shuffling the offseason calendar. Nobody! O.K., that’s extreme to shout like the lady who screamed at Jerry for being a difficult neighbor. 

But it does say a lot that my colleague Albert Breer hasn’t received one positive review about this proposal from a coach, scout or front-office person. Hopefully the league and NFLPA have taken notice of the backlash.  

Gilberto Manzano