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How much will Justin Jefferson get on his next deal, from the Vikings or someone else?

Earlier this week, we boiled down the situation with the Vikings and receiver Justin Jefferson to a very simple proposition: Pay him or trade him.

If they’re going to trade him (and they’ve insisted they won’t), another team will have to pay him. Eventually, he will get that second contract. So what will it look like?

We recently explained that the contracts given to the supposedly highest-paid receivers contain fugazi out years that create the perception they’re worth more than they are. No one is making $30 million per year; not even close. No one is even at $25 million annually, when assessing the value of the total contract at the moment it is signed.

Jefferson is due to make $19.743 million under his fifth-year option. A new contract would replace that with a multi-year deal that includes two or three fully-guaranteed years. (Three is probably what’s needed, frankly.) To base the value on the receiver market, however, could be a mistake.

Consider these words from G.M. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, uttered at the Scouting Combine: “We’ve said it and we’ll continue to say it, we think he’s the best wide receiver in the league and should be compensated as such. We think he’s one of the best non-quarterbacks in the league, think he should be compensated as such.”

The highest-paid non-quarterback is 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, at $34 million per year in new money.

Last year, Bosa was due to make $17.8 million. He signed a five-year, $170 million extension. That’s a six-year deal, with a value of $31.3 million per year at signing.

And that was before the salary cap shot to $255.4 million for 2024.

For Jefferson, then, the key minimum numbers obviously become $34 million per year in new money, and $31.3 million in total value.

The length and structure are also important. Will it be front-loaded, making it a good deal for the team in the later years? Back-loaded, which would increase the chances of the team moving on prematurely? Or will it be a shorter extension, such as (perhaps) three years?

Let’s work with three years. And let’s assume that the first three years of the four-year contract will be fully guaranteed. With $19.743 million in hand for 2024, a four-year, $121.743 million deal gets Jefferson to $34 million per year in new money (matching Bosa) and $30.43 million in total value at signing.

That would blow the receiver market out of the water, since the best deals are currently below $24 million per year in total value at signing. But, again, Jefferson transcends all positions but quarterback. Adofo-Mensah said so. So a true $30 million in actual value at signing seems fair and appropriate.

This should be easy. If the Vikings are playing games (and some would say that perhaps they are), it’s time for the games to stop. Pay him or trade him to someone who will.

It could be done in one day, if the Vikings were truly motivated to do it. Until they do it, it’s impossible to ignore the possibility that, at some point in the next four days, he’ll be on a new team.