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Making Pro Bowl likely to earn Vikings’ Justin Jefferson about $3 million in extra salary

Despite having lost defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, the Vikings continue to lead the NFL with 44 sacks.

FILE PHOTO: NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Brace Hemmelgarn / USA Today Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- By making his second Pro Bowl in his second season, Minnesota 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.

Sack leaders
Despite having lost defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, the Vikings continue to lead the NFL with 44 sacks.

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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.”

Passing woes
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.

Patterson tests positive for COVID, out for game
Vikings co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“He has COVID,” Zimmer said on Friday. “He’s struggling a little bit, so we’re trying to get him some medicine to help him.”

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Zimmer said Patterson, who is also assistant head coach and defensive line coach, has not been hospitalized. Like all coaches, Patterson is fully vaccinated.

Zimmer said assistant defensive line coach Imarjaye Albury will handle substitutions and some of the game calls Sunday. Zimmer calls the defensive plays, and the Vikings also have co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Adam Zimmer.

Cole will miss rest of regular season
The Vikings placed starting right guard Mason Cole on injured reserve Friday, ending his regular season.

Zimmer said Cole, hurt in last Monday’s 17-9 win at Chicago, has a hyperextended elbow and will be out three weeks, which is the minimum amount of time a player must sit out while on injured reserve. The Vikings have three games left in the regular season.

Preseason Week 3
Center Mason Cole (52) was signed in the off season from the Arizona Cardinals.
Minnesota Vikings photo

The Vikings also listed as questionable wide receiver Adam Thielen and fullback C.J. Ham for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium after they were limited Friday in practice. Thielen has missed the past two games with a high left ankle sprain and Ham has a hamstring injury.

Cole likely will be replaced at right guard by Oli Udoh, who started the first 11 games at that spot before moving to left tackle for two games when Christian Darrisaw had an ankle injury. He went to the bench against the Bears after Darrisaw returned.

Zimmer wouldn’t confirm that Udoh will start but offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak had indicated Thursday that he was next in line. Udoh likely will line up against Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

“We’re probably ready to see some Udoh,” Kubiak said. “Oli’s been great for us this year. “I can’t tell you how important he’s been to us, him being able to move around and play a lot of spots. He just keeps getting better every week.”

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Cole, in his first season with the Vikings after playing three years for Arizona, began the season as a reserve. After Garrett Bradbury went on the COVID-19 reserve list in November, he started at center for four games, including two when Bradbury was off the list. Then he started the past three games at right guard, two when Darrisaw was out and one when he returned to left tackle.

The only player listed on the Rams’ final injury report was defensive lineman Greg Gaines, who is questionable with an ankle injury.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGSFOOTBALL
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