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If Vikings wait to extend Justin Jefferson, they could regret it

The Vikings have one of the best receivers in the league. He’s due for a new contract. The Vikings could be content to take advantage of the rules that allow them to wait to extend Justin Jefferson.

If they do that, they could end up regretting it, for multiple reasons.

First, a little background. The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement did two important things to make it harder for great incoming players to get paid. First, operating under the notion that highly-drafted players who become busts suck millions of dollars out of the system, the league grossly restricted the compensation paid to all highly-drafted picks — including those who turn out to be great players. Second, the 2011 CBA extended from two seasons to three the opening of the window for a second contract.

So, for the incoming players who end up being great, they don’t get the money they deserved on the way in, and they have to wait at least one more year to get what they’ve earned.

For the first-round picks who end up being great players, they should not have to wait another day for their financial rewards. For the protection against injury. For the fair compensation for the things they’ll do in the fourth and fifth year of their careers.

Plenty of teams drag their feet, however. Because they can. If the player doesn’t take a stand, the player doesn’t get his money. And Jefferson has made it clear he won’t be taking a stand.

There’s plenty of noise out there that the Vikings will wait to extend Jefferson. They could regret it, for a couple of reasons.

For starters, the price is only going to keep going up and up. Every team that has ever waited to sign a great player has ended up spending more to later sign him. Unless, of course, the player suffers a serious injury or loses his fastball. Does anyone think Justin Jefferson is suddenly going to morph into Troy Williamson?

Then there’s the possibility that the foot-dragging will upset the good-natured Jefferson, making him decide that he wants out. That he wants to play elsewhere — like Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and A.J. Brown in 2022. Once that bridge is crossed, it’s hard to go back.

To the Vikings, tread lightly. While the squeaky wheel gets the grease, taking a smoothly-spinning wheel for granted could cause it to suddenly fly off the axle.

They have a rare talent in Jefferson. They should be treating him that way. There’s no reason not to. And if/when they wake up one day with another Randy Moss or Percy Harvin or Stefon Diggs who end up being sent elsewhere for one or more draft picks, the Vikings will have only themselves to blame.

And, if that’s what happens, Vikings fans will just shrug and says, “It’s just another day in Purple Purgatory.”