Vikings’ Justin Jefferson ‘not mad’ at Kirk Cousins for departure

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson said he understands quarterback Kirk Cousins’ decision to sign with the Atlanta Falcons.

Cousins, after all, signed a four-year, $180 million deal with $100 million guaranteed after spending the past six seasons with Minnesota.

“I’m not mad at him at all for that,” Jefferson said Tuesday on “The Rich Eisen Show.”

The Vikings addressed Cousins’ departure by signing veteran Sam Darnold and selecting J.J. McCarthy with the 10th overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft.

“I always knew that Kirk was going to do whatever he needs to do for (him) business-wise,” Jefferson told Eisen, “and I just knew that everything just wasn’t the way he wanted it to be here, especially just with having to pay me and having to pay so many other different guys. I feel like he just wanted a new start, a new opportunity to start with Atlanta and a clean slate and I’m not mad at him at all for that. I’m grateful for what he has brought to me and the things that we have accomplished together.

“But at the end of the day, it’s a business and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do for yourself and for your family, and I clearly understand that. But it’s on to the next. It doesn’t really matter what quarterback it is in my eyes. I’m always going to try to make the best of the opportunity. I’m always going to try to be the quarterback’s friend and make his job a lot easier. It doesn’t matter if it was Kirk or if it’s Sam or if it’s J.J. I’m going to make it as easy as possible for him.”

Jefferson, the 2022 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, signed a four-year, $140 million contract extension last month.

After leading the NFL in receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809) in 2022, Jefferson reached the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth straight season in 2023 despite missing seven games due to injuries.

Drafted in the first round (22nd overall) in 2020, Jefferson is a three-time Pro Bowl selection with 392 catches for 5,899 yards and 30 touchdowns in 60 career games (57 starts). His career average of 98.3 receiving yards per game is the highest in NFL history.

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