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Vikings face 2-pronged offseason dilemma

PACKAGE DEAL? — Can the Minnesota Vikings sign both quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18), shown chatting after a regular-season victory, to contracts during the offseason? Minnesota’s front-office moves will determine the team’s fate. (AP Photo)

FAIRMONT — The Minnesota Vikings’ front office is facing a two-pronged dilemma this offseason — the futures of their franchise quarterback and the best receiver in the NFL.

Contract extension negotiations have reportedly stalled between the front office and wide receiver Justin Jefferson, causing widespread speculation across the league.

According to Mike Florio of “Sports Illustrated,” the main issue with the negotiations has to do with the structure of the contract, not the money.

Jefferson is coming off an underwhelming year by his standards, but not due to his play. The NFL All-Pro wideout faced a littany of nagging injuries but still managed to accumulate 1,074 yards and five touchdowns for the Vikings.

The soon-to-be fifth-year pass catcher is off to one of the greatest starts to a career of any receiver in the history of the league, and Vikings fans may be having flashbacks to Hall of Famer Randy Moss’ exit from the team in 2004.

On the other side of the coin is a much different situation.

Veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins has made his demands pretty clear so far early this offseason. He is looking for a fully guaranteed deal at the age of 35 and coming off a torn Achilles tendon last season.

The stark contrast in age and production seems to be a stalling point for the Vikings’ brass, who seem hesistant to pay Cousins or Jefferson the guaranteed money they both want.

Reports from Mike Florio and Albert Breer both state that there is an organizational standard against paying non-quarterbacks guaranteed money after the first year of a deal.

It seems Jefferson is remaining patient for now, but when will his patience wear off?

The wideout has done more than enough in his brief tenure with the team to prove his value in my opinion, and has been a catalyst in reviving a team that had been struggling to find an identity in the post Adrian Peterson era.

Time will tell if this offseason goes down as a colossal failure from the Vikings’ front office that sends the team into a full rebuild, or a success that leads to playoff berths down the line.

The team has some options as this year’s draft is pretty rich on paper at the quarterback position, so they could possibly let Cousins walk and resign Jefferson for bigger money if they pick a rookie quarterback which allows for cap flexibility.

The issue is that they likely cannot draft one of the top prospects as they hold the 11th pick in the first round. There has been recent buzz surrounding former Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy and Heisman winner Jayden Daniels of LSU.

The Vikings could look to move up a few spots and try to find their QB of the future to pair with Jefferson.

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