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Vikings’ contract structure could complicate Justin Jefferson deal

From Vikings WR Justin Jefferson to Lions EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Mike Florio and Chris Simms select the strongest players in the NFC North who aren't QBs.

Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson’s absence from offseason workouts isn’t accidental. He wants a new contract. He has earned a new contract. And he has no reason to show up without one.

The Vikings obviously want to give him a contract. The sticking points will be the amount and the structure.

When it comes to new money, Jefferson has every right to expect to re-set the market, surpassing the $30 million annual value of Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill’s contract.

When it comes to structure, and as a league source explained it to PFT, the Vikings typically insist on a structure that entails injury guarantees that don’t become fully guaranteed until the year the money is earned. It gives the Vikings an annual out, as long as the player is healthy.

The Vikings broke that precedent for quarterback Kirk Cousins. Will they do it for Jefferson?

I asked a source involved in the Jefferson negotiations whether the Vikings’ guarantee structure will be an issue. The response was simple.

“We’ll see.”

Indeed we will.

Jefferson is currently the best receiver in the NFL. He gets open consistently, he catches everything thrown his way, and he holds onto the ball no matter how hard he’s being hit.

To get this done, the team likely needs to be willing to fully guarantee at least two if not three years of the deal. And the deal needs to pay plenty for one of the most important players on the team.

That’s the reality of scratching off a lottery ticket in the first round of the draft and having it hit. The jackpot eventually gets paid out by, not to, the winner.

The better the player, the bigger the jackpot.