Ten years after Adrian Peterson became the last non-quarterback to win NFL MVP honors, another Vikings player has a chance to beat out a QB for the award — and make history at his position.
Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson is one of five Finalists for league MVP honors alongside four quarterbacks: the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Bengals’ Joe Burrow, the Bills’ Josh Allen and the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts.
No receiver has won NFL MVP honors; Jerry Rice finished second in 1987, and the only two receivers to get votes for the award since Rice were Randy Moss (four votes in 1998) and Cooper Kupp (one vote last year). The Associated Press changed its voting procedures this year, however, allowing Voters to rank five candidates for MVP honors.
If Jefferson were to win MVP, he’d be the fourth Vikings player to win it, joining Alan Page in 1971, Fran Tarkenton in 1975 and Peterson in 2012.
Jefferson, Mahomes and Hurts are also the Finalists for NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. The winners of both awards, and the others selected by the AP’s 50-person panel of NFL media members, will be announced during the NFL Honors program on Feb. 9.
Voters made their choices at the end of the regular season; the shift to the ranked-choice format could give Jefferson a better chance against the quarterbacks in the MVP field. Realistically, though, he might have a better chance at winning Offensive Player of the Year, a season after Kupp did it for the Rams.
Jefferson, who led the league in catches (128) and yards (1,809), would be the first Vikings player to win Offensive Player of the Year since Peterson in 2012. Only two Vikings — Peterson and Tarkenton in 1975 — have won the award in its 51-year history.
The same national media panel, which includes the Star Tribune’s Mark Craig, made Jefferson a unanimous first-team All-Pro selection earlier this month. Mahomes and the Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill were also voted onto that team; Hurts was a second-team All-Pro.
On Wednesday, the Pro Football Writers Association — made up of hundreds of media members from around the country — voted Jefferson the NFL Offensive Player of the Year, while giving MVP honors to Mahomes. Jefferson is the second Vikings player to win the top Offensive Prize from the PFWA, following Peterson in 2012.
Despite leading the Vikings to a 13-4 record in his first season, Kevin O’Connell was not named a finalist for NFL Coach of the Year in the AP ballot. Two coaches in their first year with their teams — the Giants’ Brian Daboll and the Jaguars’ Doug Pederson — are finalists, as are the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, the Bills’ Sean McDermott and the Eagles’ Nick Sirianni.
Pederson won a Super Bowl with the Eagles after the 2017 season; Daboll is the only finalist who is in his first year as an NFL coach. The Giants beat the Vikings 31-24 in the playoffs, but Voters cast their ballots at the end of the regular season, when the Vikings had beaten the Giants 27-24 and finished with a better record than the Giants and Jaguars.