Report: Vikings, Justin Jefferson to resume talks after season

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The Vikings might soon have yet another problem at receiver. And they might eventually have to trade away another great one.

For the fourth time in less than 20 years.

From Randy Moss to Percy Harvin to Stefon Diggs, the relationship with the team soured and the Vikings moved on. While the relationship with 2022 offensive player of the year Justin Jefferson has not yet soured, it’s far from being as sweet as it should be.

Via multiple reports, the Vikings and Jefferson won’t be finalizing a contract extension before Sunday’s Week 1 game against the Buccaneers. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the plan is to revisit the negotiations after the season.

As PFT has noted on several occasions, the holdup likely traces to Minnesota’s guarantee structure. The team refuses to vest full guarantees a year early (with, for example, 2025 payments becoming fully guaranteed in March 2024). An exception was made for quarterback Kirk Cousins. Jefferson reasonably believes an exception should be made for him.

That’s possibly why he said this on Thursday: “I’m in a different situation. I’ve done something that no one has ever done in the history of the game. So my situation is a little bit different than everyone else’s.”

Indeed it is. He has earned a contract that would pay him much more than the slotted $2.4 million he’s due to make this year. Frankly, it’s an embarrassment that he’s only getting $2.4 million for 2023, given what he has done — and given what he likely will do again.

At some point, Jefferson (who currently seems to be very good natured and willing to go along with the situation) might change his mind and ask to be traded to a team that will pay him what he’s worth. It happened with three great receivers in 2022: Devante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and A.J. Brown. It could happen with Jefferson in 2024.

The Vikings clearly aren’t sweating that possibility. As I’ve said before, the failure to extend Jefferson could be the first step in a scenario that entails trading him to a team holding a draft pick high enough to deliver a franchise quarterback for the Vikings.

Yes, Jefferson is great. So was Moss, Harvin, and Diggs. And the Vikings got to a grand total of no Super Bowls with those other players on the team.

A franchise quarterback means more to an NFL organization than a stellar receiver. And if rookie receiver Jordan Addison turns out to be a great receiver, too, the Vikings can keep him and trade Jefferson in a way that positions them to get the true, year-in-and-year-out franchise quarterback they haven’t had since they traded with the Giants to bring Fran Tarkenton back to Minnesota in the 1970s.

That could be the plan. If it isn’t, it could become the reality — if/when Jefferson decides he’s had enough of his skills and abilities not being properly recognized and compensated.

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