The Vikings have reached an impasse with Thielen and his $20 million cap hit for the 2023 season. Thielen has restructured his contract each offseason the past two years, leading to his cap hit for next season that ranks 14th among wide receivers while his production has slid outside the top 50 wide receivers in the league.
However, Thielen, according to his wife, is adamant he hasn’t been given the opportunities to earn his keep.
SKOR North’s Judd Zulgad, addressing the Thielens’ recent outcry, urged them to take a look in the mirror as Thielen, 32, is already in the twilight of his playing career.
“I don’t know if he’s still stuck in this mindset, but it used to be Diggs and Thielen… 1A and 1B,” Zulgad said, adding that Thielen has not capitalized on the added attention Justin Jefferson received from defenses like he did alongside a budding Stefon Diggs.
“I think this frustration, I think the Thielens need to look in the mirror at who [Adam] is now,” Zulgad said. “If you’re not happy, then I think you’re gone.”
Vikings’ Adam Thielen Lost His Grip as No. 2 Pass-Catcher Late in the Season
Thielen was the Vikings’ second-leading pass-catcher this season, tallying 70 catches for 716 yards and six touchdowns on 107 targets in the regular season.
However, in Minnesota’s final five games, his role as the top pass-catcher behind Jefferson had started to slip from his grasp.
After averaging seven targets per game through the first 13 games of the season, Adam saw just 20 targets in the Vikings’ final five games, per Pro Football Reference. He caught three or fewer passes in that span, averaging 24.2 yards per game.
It’s Up to Adam Thielen
The Vikings offense during Thielen’s prime years was a pick-your-poison dilemma for opposing defenses with Diggs. But four years since Thielen’s last Pro Bowl, it’s clear he’s lost a step. Jefferson has commanded two and at times three men in coverage, yet Thielen has struggled to win his one-on-one matchups.
Yes, he was battling a knee injury all season and managed to play every game this season for the first time since 2019. However, his struggles to create separation go beyond this season.
Over The Cap appraised Thielen’s 2022 performance to be worth a $12.5 million annual deal, but that’s also across the span of the entire season.
Whether it’s Thielen not getting open or the offense intentionally designing more opportunities elsewhere, Thielen’s final stretch of the 2022 season is the sign of how he’d be involved in 2023 if he takes a pay cut.
If Thielen believes he has more left in the tank and can’t reach a compromise, the prospects of that pay cut may be kaput, forcing the Vikings to either cut or trade him this offseason.