Some extensions really feel extra like a “when” quite than an “if.”
Certainly, the Vikings’ 3 essential extension candidates have confirmed essential to the staff’s success. Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Danielle Hunter are all among the many sport’s greatest gamers at their place. Making extensions much more possible is that the trio marries top-tier play with some youth. Hunter is the oldest, however he’s nonetheless solely 28.
Coming into the offseason, I predicted that we’d see a Kirk Cousins extension. That’s nonetheless a risk, however the resolution to restructure his deal makes an extension extra unlikely. Not unimaginable, however unlikely.
At this stage, Jefferson, Hockenson, and Hunter are extra believable. Pushing issues to the max would contain saving greater than $10 million on the 2023 cap, so let’s focus on the scenario for every.
The Vikings’ 3 Principal Extension Candidates
#1 – Large Receiver Justin Jefferson
We’ve been questioning about this extension for a very long time.
Beforehand, I speculated that we’d see Jefferson reset the receiver market by locking in $80 million in guaranteed money.
Final season’s Offensive Participant of the 12 months, Jefferson secured 128 catches, 1809 yards, and eight TDs. Maybe the principle two instances he gave the impression to be stifled got here in Week 2 and Week 17. In each cases, he was being matched up with a top-tier nook (Darius Slay and Jaire Alexander), enjoying on the highway, and working inside an offense that was struggling in a serious approach.
For the upcoming season, the offense must prioritize discovering methods of getting him stepping into lower than superb circumstances.
He’ll flip 24 in June.
Potential Financial savings in 2023: $1,111,578
#2 – Tight Finish T.J. Hockenson
For a short time, we’ve been discussing an extension for Hockenson. Merely put, the commerce with the Lions means Kwesi Adofo-Mensah possible feels compelled to maintain the proficient tight finish on the town for a number of seasons. It’s unhealthy enterprise to equip a division rival with higher draft picks except one’s personal staff is getting a big addition.
In simply 10 video games with the Vikings, Hockenson had 60 catches, 519 yards, and three TDs. For the season in its entirety, he had 86 catches, 914 yards, and 6 touchdowns. The catches rank 2nd within the NFL amongst tight ends and so too do the yards.
With a lot warmth on Jefferson on a week-in, week-out foundation, the Vikings want to make sure they’re equipping their offense with different succesful threats. Hockenson is a part of the answer, somebody who can punish defenses for overloading their protection on #18. I’m anticipating a long-term deal that retains him within the Purple & Gold all through his prime.
He’ll flip 26 in July.
Potential Financial savings in 2023: $6,599,200
#3 – Edge Rusher Danielle Hunter
It’s supremely troublesome to unearth elite edge rushers. Very fairly, groups maintain on tight once they get one within the constructing. In consequence, we shouldn’t be overly stunned if we see Mr. Hunter agreeing to a brand new deal in the summertime months.
The person battled severe harm in each 2020 and 2021. Unsurprisingly, the protection struggled to interchange him in these years. In 2022, he was arguably the protection’s greatest participant.
Hunter completed the season because the Seventh-best edge rusher on PFF. He did so whereas adjusting to enjoying exterior linebacker and whereas working inside a bland, predictable protection that intimated no one. What’s he going to do within the Brian Flores protection? If wholesome, he’s going to be a nightmare to dam.
He’ll flip 29 in October.
Potential Financial savings in 2023: $3,068,000
Editor’s Word: Data from Pro Football Reference, PFF, StatMuse, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.