Four Wide Receivers That Will Benefit Most from Justin Jefferson's Record-Setting Contract

Justin Jefferson reset the WR market with his new deal. Here are the four players who will benefit the most as a result.
CeeDee Lamb with the ball against the Detroit Lions
CeeDee Lamb with the ball against the Detroit Lions / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The saying "a rising tide lifts all boats" is rarely as applicable as when it comes to NFL contracts. Each offseason, players at premier positions like quarterback and wide receiver sign gigantic contracts that reset the market. Those players reign as the highest-paid at their respective positions... until the next contract is signed by a superstar that makes them the highest-paid player at their position and resets the market.

It's a cycle that repeats itself and has many ripple effects, the most prevalent of which is that players at these positions just keep making more and more money. Each new superstar deal sets the stage for the next.

Which brings us to Monday, when Justin Jefferson helped out all his colleagues around the league by receiving a record-setting amount of money. News broke in the morning that Jefferson had agreed to a four-year, $140 million deal with $110 million guaranteed with the Minnesota Vikings. The extension makes Jefferson the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL and the highest-paid non-quarterback in football history.

It is obviously well-deserved for Jefferson. It is also a boon for other wide receivers around his level who are negotiating their own big-time contracts. Here are four receivers in particular who will benefit from Jefferson's record-setting deal in their respective negotiations.

CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

Lamb is the name you'll probably see the most floating around in the wake of the Jefferson deal. The Cowboys star earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2023, posting a league-leading 135 catches for 1,749 yards and 12 touchdowns. Pound-for-pound, he may not be as talented as Jefferson but he is definitely in a similar tier of game-changing receiver— and he should get paid like it, too.

In addition to their other similarities, Lamb was part of Jefferson's draft class, meaning he is entering the final year of his rookie contract and should receive an extension this offseason from the franchise that drafted him. That extension will now be much pricier with Jefferson's deal in place. Jerry Jones has been insisting all offseason that the Cowboys are "all in" for 2024, but the lack of extensions for Lamb and quarterback Dak Prescott have been a big talking point.

Regardless of when the deal gets done (and who it gets done with), Lamb will be negotiating from a position of strength after Jefferson reset the market and it would not be a surprise to see him end up the highest-paid receiver in the league.

Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Chase is one of the few wideouts who can lay legitimate claim to Jefferson's throne as best receiver in the NFL. He's a legitimate game-breaker who can and will dominate defenses on the right day. In 2023, Chase posted an even 100 catches for 1,216 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing two games to injury and catching passes from multiple different quarterbacks amid Joe Burrow's own injury-plagued campaign.

With an All-Pro nomination to his name already in his young career, Chase is often tabbed as the next receiver to sign a truly ludicrous deal. Lamb is likely next in line to reset the market but Chase is going to demand even bigger money given his immediate and overwhelming dominance from Day 1.

The interesting aspect of Chase's situation, however, is that he still has two seasons left on his rookie deal. This gives the Bengals more leverage than other teams on this list because they have a full extra offseason to get him under contract before he enters the final year of his deal. Cincinnati is incentivized to get it done as soon as possible, because as laid out above, the price tag will just keep going up. Jefferson's deal isn't too bad a starting point for either side.

Chase is set to get paid, either this offseason or the next.

Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers

Aiyuk has been in trade rumors all offseason so who knows where he'll end up by the time the season kicks off in September. Wherever that may be, he will almost certainly sign a new deal in the coming months; he is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will want a raise from someone. The Jefferson contract will give him a big boost.

Unlike the above two players, Aiyuk is not quite in that superstar tier level of player that will break multiple records upon putting pen to paper. He had 75 catches for 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns in 2023, and playing in Kyle Shanahan's incredibly productive offense probably hurts more than helps him.

A more apt comparison may be Amon-Ra St. Brown, an excellent player who was briefly the highest-paid receiver in the league this offseason after signing a four-year, $120 million deal in April with $77 million guaranteed. That will likely be the comparison point when contract negotiations get underway.

Even acknowleding that, Aiyuk will have the advantage of the Jefferson contract that St. Brown did not. He should be in line for a larger payday than he was before.

Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

Higgins was franchise-tagged by the Bengals this offseason after playing out the final year of his deal. A lot of what happens with Higgins will depend on what happens with Chase, but negotiations between Higgins and the Bengals are essentially non-existent at this juncture, according to the latest reports, and he's yet to sign the tag. So it's really anybody's guess right now as to how long Higgins is meant for Cincinnati and if he'll sign a new deal there or elsewhere.

However, when Higgins does get to the negotiating table, the Jefferson deal will be very helpful. Like Aiyuk, Higgins is not a superstar, but he's very good and can reasonably assert he'll post even better numbers as the No. 1 option instead of across from a talent like Chase. As is, Higgins recorded 42 catches for 656 yards and five touchdowns last season-- all career-lows, stemming from injury problems that forced him to miss six games and the same quarterback issues that Chase had to deal with.

He is in line for a nice raise one way or the other, and the Jefferson contract will help as a reference point in negotiations.


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Liam McKeone

LIAM MCKEONE

Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.