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Has Van Jefferson earned a contract extension with the LA Rams?

The 4th year wide receiver is going into his final season on his rookie deal

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

In 2020, the Los Angeles Rams parlayed the second round pick that they acquired when they traded Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans into the player they hoped would replace him as the team’s second or third wide receiver. Unfortunately, Van Jefferson’s career through three seasons has been marred by inconsistent play and most recently, missing six games due to injury.

However, as a 2024 free agent and the Rams best option next to Cooper Kupp that we know of, could Jefferson be an extension candidate at some point in 2023?

Billed as the third receiver behind Kupp and Robert Woods, Jefferson had a slow beginning to his career. He was only able to accumulate 220 yards and one touchdown in his rookie season while not getting the start in any of the games (he did play in all 16 of them though).

In 2021, Jefferson was slated to be a starter going into the season and came out hot against the Chicago Bears with 80 yards and a touchdown. He also had a heads up play where he was never downed on a deep pass and had enough awareness to get up and continue running for a score.

It seemed like Jefferson was dipping on the depth chart after Odell Beckham Jr. was acquired midway through the season, however an ACL injury to Woods immediately following the signing kept Jefferson on the field in a starting capacity. He had a pair of solid games against the Arizona Cardinals where his dad Shawn Jefferson, who at the time was Arizona’s wide receivers coach, watched his son from the sidelines.

Jefferson finished 2021 with 802 yards and six touchdowns but in the playoffs, when the Rams needed him most, he had just nine catches on 17 targets for 102 yards and zero touchdowns. Instead, Kupp had one of the most dominant postseason performances by a receiver in history, adding Super Bowl MVP to Offensive Player of the Year.

Unfortunately, 2022 was a bad year for Jefferson and Los Angeles as a whole. Like the team, Jefferson was plagued with injury most of the season and after not getting on the field until November, he was able to amass 369 yards and 3 touchdowns in about nine games.

He did have a game-winning touchdown catch in a last second come back against the Las Vegas Raiders, showing he does have the mental capacity to make the big pressure play.

Van Jefferson has seemed to be a bigger part of the Rams active roster than his stats would indicate. However, after never breaking 1,000 yards in a season and injuries effecting his ability to get on the field, it’s hard to imagine the Rams giving him a long term extension unless he is able to put together a high quality season in 2022.

Last year, Hunter Renfrow was extended by the Las Vegas Raiders on a 2 year $32 million deal. I would imagine Jefferson’s new contract would look similar, a 2-3 year deal that could average $10-$15 million. It sounds like a lot, but in the modern age, players like Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling make $10-$11 million and Corey Davis makes $12.5 million, so it may not be that far off from Jefferson’s value range. Jefferson’s potential and versatility to play outside or in the slot keeps it a possibility.

Jefferson is all but locked in as the number two guy behind Kupp for this coming season, and the Rams are giving him every opportunity to show why he is a starting caliber receiver garnering starting caliber pay. Is he ready to accept it?