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Dec. 24—By making his second Pro Bowl in his second season, Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson likely will earn about $3 million more in salary.
Jefferson, who signed a four-year, $13.1 million contract after being the No. 22 pick in the 2020 draft, will be eligible to have his fifth-year option for 2024 picked up by May 2023. Barring something unforeseen, the Vikings will pick it up.
A rule change in the 2020 collective bargaining agreement provides tiers on how much fifth-year options will be worth for first-round picks, and the top tier is players with two or more Pro Bowl selections, With Jefferson having been named Monday to his second Pro Bowl, his option will be for the franchise player tender that season for wide receivers.
Salary-cap analyst Jason Fitzgerald estimates that Jefferson's 2024 salary will be between $19 million and $20 million. He estimates that figure will be between $2.5 million and $3 million more than for a receiver with just one Pro Bowl selection.
Despite having lost defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, the Vikings continue to lead the NFL with 44 sacks.
Hunter had six sacks when he was for the season after seven games due to a torn pectoral muscle. Griffen had five sacks when he was placed on the non-football illness list after 10 games.
Others have stepped up. Defensive end D.J. Wonnum has five sacks in the past four games and tied Hunter for the team lead after having three in last Monday's 17-9 win at Chicago. Others who have sacks this season are linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive tackle Armon Watts, who has three in the past five games.
"It's nice," said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. "I think our guys keep trying to get better and improve. ... It was nice that D.J. had some success the other night but if we had (Hunter and Griffen), we'd be even better."
How bad was Minnesota's passing game against the Bears?
Well, the 61 team passing yards the Vikings had was their lowest in any game since they had 60 in a 41-0 loss at the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 14, 2001. In the regular season, it was the lowest since they had 52 in a 17-13 win over Cleveland on Nov. 22, 1992.
Team passing yards are calculated by passing yards subtracted by yards lost on sacks. Against the Bears, Kirk Cousins completed 12 of 24 passes for 87 yards and was sacked four times for losses totaling 26 yards.