If the Vikings are thinking about trading Justin Jefferson, this is the week to make a deal

If the Vikings are thinking about trading Justin Jefferson, this is the week to make a deal

With the Vikings still not extending the contract of receiver Justin Jefferson and the sharp increase in the salary cap for 2024 meaning that it will be more expensive than whatever it would have been before everyone knew the cap was jumping to $255.4 million per team, a trade remains possible, in theory.

If the Vikings are going to trade Jefferson in exchange for draft capital that, for example, would allow them to move up from No. 11 in an attempt to get their first true, multi-year, franchise quarterback since Fran Tarkenton, now is the time to do it. The entire league is convening on Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine. If there’s business to be done, this is the chance to do business.

Yes, trades don’t become official until the first day of the league year, on March 13. However, deals can be reached in advance. The Vikings could, if they want, reach an agreement in principle now that would be activated on or after 4:00 p.m. ET on March 13.

On Sunday, Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press buried this nugget in a lengthy, catch-all column: “Meanwhile, steam continues that the Vikings could make Justin Jefferson available for trade.”

We’re not sure where the “steam” is coming from. The circumstances suggest that, until a long-term deal is done, a trade could be made. The two sides failed to work out a contract before the start of the 2023 season. The Vikings, we believe, believe they made Jefferson a more-than-adequate offer. Jefferson, obviously, does not share that belief.

Whatever he wanted then, he justifiably wants more now. The Vikings have to make the same kind of decision the Chiefs made with Tyreek Hill two years ago. Is it the right time to flip Jefferson for multiple first-round picks, and more?

First, they have to find a team that will invest the draft capital and that will pay Jefferson whatever he wants. For Hill, the Chiefs found that in the Dolphins. The Vikings would need to find one team that would offer the Vikings a sufficient premium to get Jefferson, and that would offer Jefferson a sufficient premium to keep him.

Can it happen? Now is the time to do it, if the goal is to get enough for Jefferson to move up and get a top quarterback.

If it happens, how will the fans feel about it? The whole purpose of the draft is to get great players. In 2020, the Vikings got one. It’s very risky to give up on a proven player in the hopes of finding a quarterback who might (or might not) become the answer to the team’s 48-year failure to return to the Super Bowl.

Maybe the fans should like it? After all, they’ve had great receivers over the years — from Cris Carter to Randy Moss to Percy Harvin to Stefon Diggs. And that didn’t get the Vikings back to a Super Bowl. In a quarterback-driven league, maybe the Vikings won’t get back in the general vicinity of the top of the mountain until they have a proven, top-five, franchise quarterback.

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