It took sacrifice for the Minnesota Vikings to make a splash in free agency this offseason.
And the biggest wave came after a sacrifice on the contract of one of the team’s most beloved players, Adam Thielen.
The Minnesota native agreed to a contract restructure last week that helped clear enough cap space to help the Vikings sign longtime Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson to a one-year, $10 million deal.
Peterson, one of Thielen’s “golf buddies,” put ink to paper on his deal on Monday, reinforcing a Minnesota defense that was the bane of the team’s success last season, allowing the fourth-most points in 2020.
Peterson touted the talent the Vikings have on both sides of the ball and his eagerness to help the defense have a turnaround season.
“That’s why I wanted to be a part of this organization,” Peterson said of Zimmer. “Coach Zim’s football teams do a great job on the offensive side of taking care of the football. Captain Kirk (Cousins) had, I believe, his best year throwing the ball, you have Justin Jefferson on the outside, Adam (Thielen) who is a good golf buddy of mine, Dalvin (Cook), you got weapons all over the place and that’s just on the offensive side of the ball. You got Anthony Barr, Harrison (Smith), myself, D-Hunter, I know I’m forgetting some people, but we’re loaded. If we can come in here and stick to the three core values around here, I believe it was ‘unity, commitment and relentless(ness),’ you get all 53 guys on the same page for 16 games — it might be 17 games this year if I’m not mistaken — we have a chance to do something pretty special.”
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Adam Thielen’s Contract Restructure Details
To be clear, Thielen did not take a pay cut. He also didn’t have much say in the restructuring.
On Thursday morning, Minnesota restructured Thielen’s contract to save $7.5 million on the cap. By Thursday afternoon, the Vikings had reached a verbal commitment with Peterson.
The move with Thielen was a procedure that teams can do to any player’s contract. The Vikings moved $10 million of his $11.1 million base salary for 2021 to a signing bonus. That left $2.5 million of that bonus on the books for 2021 and the other increments of $2.5 million placed on the cap for 2022, 2023 and 2024, per Chris Tomasson.
While Thielen’s wallet didn’t take a hit, pushing back his signing bonuses does put a financial burden on the team’s salary cap in future years.
Minnesota is banking on the cap to bounce back from the losses the league saw in 2020 while also trying to keep its Super Bowl window open with the signing of Peterson.
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Patrick Peterson Says He’ll Play Cornerback
There was speculation that Peterson would move to safety — a move Charles Woodson made in the late-stage of his career — after the Vikings failed to re-sign Anthony Harris or a replacement free agent.
Peterson put the speculation, saying he expects to play cornerback in his first press conference as a Viking.
“I believe the plan is for me to play cornerback,” Peterson said. “I know that I have a lot left in the tank. I feel that I still have a good position, far as being in position to make plays. … I know I can still play at a high level, so my position will be cornerback for sure.”
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