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Can Vikings, Justin Jefferson finally get deal done?

They've been trying to do it for a year. The Vikings have spurned all interest in a potential trade from other teams. The clock is ticking on the ideal time to get a deal done.

Will the Vikings and receiver Justin Jefferson get there?

If the Vikings are going to do it, it makes sense to do it before training camp opens. Get him in the fold and get him ready for the season, in order to get the most out of the new investment the Vikings will be making. It would be even better to do it before next week's mandatory minicamp, both to get Jefferson on the field with rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy — and to avoid creating panic among Vikings fans who choose to view the glass as half full.

Both sides remain willing to get to the finish line. Before the 2023 season began, Jefferson was ready to go but the Vikings wouldn't get to where they needed to be. Since then, it's gotten more expensive — especially with the cap going up and with G.M. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah saying this 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, 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, has a new-money average of $34 million per year. The other issue has been, and presumably still is, the structure. Although the Vikings broke their quarterback-only approach to full guarantees beyond one year when signing tight end T.J. Hockenson to a new deal, we've consistently gotten the impression that it's going to take three years of every penny fully guaranteed at signing. (A potential compromise would be to have the first two years fully guaranteed and to have the third year become fully guaranteed in March 2025.)

Regardless, even though it seems that the Vikings have at times dragged their feet and at times have potentially contemplated letting Jefferson finish his five-year rookie deal before playing the franchise-tag game and had potentially even tried to trade up for Jefferson's replacement in Malik Nabers (who's making $29 million total on a four-year deal), they want to keep Jefferson and they quite possibly will work it out, either before training camp or even before next week's mandatory minicamp. Those are the two most obvious points to get it done in a way that both secures his long-term future in Minnesota and that maximizes his ability to contribute at a high level in 2024.

Vikings fans remain understandably optimistic, because the alternative seems impossible to comprehend. Yes, the Vikings traded Randy Moss, Percy Harvin, and Stefon Diggs over the past 19 years. But, frankly, at his best Jefferson is better than any of them — and unlike his purple predecessors he has never been a problem, in any way, shape, or form.

Superstar players are few and far between. When you have one, it's important to figure out how to keep him. Even if doing so costs more than you'd like to pay or requires you to employ structural devices you'd rather avoid.

Are the Vikings accepting that reality? Their fans surely hope so.