The Vikings are fully aware of Justin Jefferson’s absence from team OTAs this year, and they’ve addressed the situation with as much tact as possible.
The Minnesota Vikings have enough dilemmas to deal with this offseason: Dalvin Cook’s ongoing situation, Kirk Cousins playing hardball, and the ghosts of last season coming back to haunt them.
The last thing they need is for their star wide receiver to start acting out, and it seems like Justin Jefferson is starting his season away from the team.
Team OTAs are considered voluntary and there’s no expectation for veterans to attend the workouts, but the idea is that the more players attend, the better team chemistry will be at the beginning of the season.
Jefferson was one Viking who chose to opt out of OTAs and has been MIA this past week.
Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell addressed Jefferson’s absence at a presser and said all the right things so far:
Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell addresses Justin Jefferson absence at OTAs
The upshot of O’Connell’s interview was: We hope to see Jefferson soon. We’ve had a dialogue about it, and the rest of the team can’t wait to start working out with him.
Basically, it was coach-talk for: There’s no problem with Justin Jefferson in Minnesota.
Jefferson is coming off another transcendent season with a league-leading 128 catches and 1,809 yards and should be set up for another productive season in Year 4. Captain Kirk will be throwing him passes yet again in possibly his last year on the Vikings; one possible reason for Jefferson’s absence is that he’s likely feeling the internal heat of the Vikings’ latest crises and may be second-guessing his own future on the team.
The Vikings brass have stated over and over again that extending Jefferson, who’s still playing on his rookie contract, is the franchise’s utmost priority moving forward.
However, Minnesota also have to contend with the fact that their top signal-caller may be leaving after 2023, and the team doesn’t have a solid contingency plan for the post-Cousins era.
Based on what O’Connell said, the team and fans have nothing to worry about when it comes to Jefferson’s commitment, and the organization expects the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year to be back in the fold by mid-June, when voluntary activities turn mandatory.