The Vikings are projected to be $24 million over the 2023 salary cap after years of restructuring veteran contracts for short-term cap relief. But to pay Justin Jefferson and rebuild the team’s defense, Minnesota may be in for another exodus of veterans similar to when seven starters departed in 2020.
Thielen, appearing on KFAN’s Power Trip Morning Show on Monday following the Vikings’ disappointing 31-24 loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card round, addressed his future with the team as a veteran with a pricey contract.
“Obviously, I would love to finish my career here and retire a Minnesota Viking and have my entire career be here. But I also know that this is a business and there’s going to have to be some business decisions being made,” Thielen said. “I have a lot of ball left. I feel great. I feel like I can play at a really high level still. With that being said, I know I’m going to be playing football still [in 2023]. I don’t know how [much longer] that will be, but I will be playing football 100% [in 2023].”
Vikings Made It Difficult to Keep Adam Thielen
While the Vikings looked to extend their Super Bowl window coming off an NFC Championship game appearance in 2018, Thielen put the team first twice by accepting contract restructures in 2021 and 2022.
Minnesota converted Thielen’s $10 million base salary in 2021 to a signing bonus that was stretched across the remaining years of his contract, saving the Vikings $7.5 million that season. Another cap maneuver in 2022 has led Thielen to be tied to a nearly a $20 million cap hit next season, which currently ranks 13th at his position, per Over the Cap.
Meanwhile, Thielen ranked 50th in receptions per game (4.1) and 60th in receiving yards per game (42.1). Thielen remains one of the league’s best red-zone weapons with the fifth-most receiving touchdowns (30) since 2020, however, he has faded from his once prominent role in the Vikings offense.
By continuing to push money Thielen earned in his prime down the road, the Vikings have stuck him with an exorbitant price tag that they may be unwilling to pay in full by allowing him to play his final two seasons in Minnesota.
If the Vikings cut him with a post-June 1 designation, they’ll save $13.4 million against the cap. However, the free-agent market will likely be dried up, rendering the savings to either paying someone else on the active roster or keeping a few pending free agents.
Adam Thielen’s Wife Addresses His Future With Vikings
Thielen’s wife, Caitlin Thielen, posted on Instagram a photo of them on the field after the last week’s loss, including a caption that spelled doubt about his future with the Vikings.
“And just like that the season and our time here in MN may be at an end,” Caitlin wrote.
“Super proud of your attitude this season and always fighting.”