On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings suffered an official defeat in the loss column of the NFL standings after falling at home to the Kansas City Chiefs. Following the game, the Vikings' own medical team delivered news of another substantial loss: that Justin Jefferson would miss the next several games.
According to NFL reporter Tom Pelissero, the Vikings have placed Jefferson on injured reserve, which means he will be forced to miss the next four games at least.
Jefferson first went down in the second half with a hamstring injury during the Week 5 loss to the Chiefs. He was immediately designated as questionable to return but he never made it back in a close fourth quarter. In the end, the Vikings were unable to come back from the final 27-20 deficit despite a last-gasp effort to tie the game.
Jefferson is, by most standards, the best wide receiver in the game and, if the Vikings are able to convince him to sign a long-term extension, a building block for this team's future. But the problem at this point is that the loss to the Chiefs knocked this season into "almost completely lost" mode before news of Jefferson's injury severity. This certainly tips the scales into "fire sale" mode.
The Vikings suffered multiple crushing losses on Sunday afternoon in Week 5.
The Vikings are now 1-4 and without their best player. They have some clear roster issues to solve and buying to improve flies in the face of the reality unfolding before them. Nothing is officially closed with only five games played, but the Detroit Lions are playing like the class of the division at 4-1 and already hold a three-game lead in the standings. Would it be worth cobbling something together for a late-season run at the 7th and final playoff spot?
At this point, Kirk Cousins is heading toward free agency, and the Vikings must admit that inking Jefferson to a long-term deal hasn't been successful so far. It seems foolish to deal these pieces and start over, but the NFL often delivers stark news in a moment's notice. The Vikings' incredible record last season was a known mirage given their 11-0 record in close games and point differential and now they're experiencing the shadow side of it all.
If the Vikings were up for it, they could lay the groundwork to competing again fairly quickly if they could convince Jefferson and maybe even Cousins to return. Then again, the "trade Cousins" banners are already being painted by the fan base. (would a Washington reunion make sense?) Moving valuable veterans like pass rushers Danielle Hunter and Marcus Davenport along with linebacker Jordan Hicks could also help reset a defense with some new draft assets.
Either way, the Vikings were raising questions a week ago when the season felt like it was slipping away. As of Tuesday, the questions and answers are obvious. It's time for a fire sale in Minnesota after such a devastating Sunday that offered up more than one loss.