Justin Jefferson extension saved Cowboys from nightmare CeeDee Lamb scenario

2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games
2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games / Jeff Bottari/GettyImages

Jerry Jones asked and the NFL answered. The Dallas Cowboys' owner said before the draft that he wanted "to see more leaves fall" before offering extensions to quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, both of whom are entering the final year of their current contracts.

Since Jones' demand, Jared Goff has altered the scope of the quarterback market and thus complicated Prescott's future with the Cowboys.

Meanwhile, the wide receiver market has exploded. Marquee talents like A.J. Brown, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Nico Collins, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith have all inked contracts worth at least $24 million per year. Both Browns managed to surpass the elusive $30 million per-year landmark.

Despite all of the WR movement, it's long felt like Lamb has been waiting for Justin Jefferson's extension "leaf" to fall. Well, Lamb's wish was granted on Monday when Jefferson signed the largest contract for a receiver in NFL history.

Justin Jefferson extension saved Cowboys from a CeeDee Lamb disaster

The Vikings and Jefferson agreed to a four-year, $140 million deal that includes $110 million guaranteed. Jefferson is now the highest-paid non-quarterback in league history both in terms of annual average value ($35 million) and guarantees.

Jefferson's deal allows the Cowboys to put the pedal to the metal with Lamb's extension with mandatory minicamp starting later this week.

Jefferson and Lamb were both drafted in 2020 and their respective stats are almost identical. In fact, Lamb has Jefferson beat in multiple categories, including catches and touchdowns. Lamb has also been more effective as a runner (43 rushing attempts to Jefferson's 12) and has more upside on special teams (358 career return yards to Jefferson's 0).

Jefferson is widely regarded as the best receiver in football, but Lamb isn't far behind. In fact, these numbers prove Lamb is knocking on the door.

The Cowboys owe Minnesota a huge thank you for getting Jefferson's deal done. While Dallas and Lamb have been entrenched in negotiations, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News reported that Lamb was waiting for this specific deal to really ramp up talks.

Furthermore, NFL insider Josina Anderson understands that talks between the Cowboys and Lamb are expected to "speed up" in light of Jefferson's deal. With Lamb still digging his heels in a contract holdout, this is the best news possible for Dallas. Prior to Monday's news, training camp was floated as a likely timeline for Lamb's deal to get finalized.

Now, an agreement could be reached as early as this week. It's unclear if Lamb cares much for the fines that come with missing mandatory minicamp practices, but he'd be subjected to a $101,716 fine if he misses the three-day camp. The Cowboys could reduce or rescind the penalty, but it's another variable to watch regardless now that Jefferson has made history.

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