The crop of free agent wide receivers is thin in 2023, but there’s a good chance the Minnesota Vikings will need to add one if they cut ties with Adam Thielen.
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report recently took a deep dive into the options on the market as free agency is set to begin on March 15. Kenyon named the Vikings among the top three candidates for his top available pass catcher Odell Beckham Jr., who missed the entirety of last season after tearing his ACL in the preceding Super Bowl.
“The final choice may be a slight surprise, given that the Minnesota Vikings’ financial outlook is tight. However, they might wind up releasing a handful of big-name players for cap reasons, including veteran wideout Adam Thielen,” Kenyon wrote on March 3. “Minnesota could pair [Beckham] with friend and fellow LSU product Justin Jefferson.”
The other two teams Kenyon mentioned as legitimate suitors for Beckham were the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants.
Vikings Had Interest in Signing WR Odell Beckham Jr. Last Season
This isn’t the first time that Beckham has been floated as an option for Minnesota. The Vikings considered Beckham as an option last year as they prepped for a playoff push that was ultimately cut short in the postseason’s opening weekend.
Armando Salguero of OutKick reported in October that the Vikings held internal discussions about adding Beckham to the mix. However, it was also noted that Minnesota was apprehensive considering Beckham’s injury status. Ultimately, the Vikings chose not to pursue Beckham and instead traded for tight end T.J. Hockenson in what proved to be a successful effort to improve their passing attack.
Beckham, meanwhile, never landed anywhere due to complications with his rehabilitation and missed the entire regular season as well as the playoffs.
Odell Beckham Jr. Cheaper Option Than Adam Thielen For Vikings
Now, however, Beckham is purported to be healthy and still has another six months to prepare before the regular season opens. The Vikings are almost certainly going to be in the market for another receiver to pair alongside Jefferson, who is expected to ink an extension this offseason that will make him the highest-paid player at the position in NFL history.
While Jefferson is an All-Pro and clearly worth the investment, it’s hard to make a similar argument for Thielen, who is owed $13.5 million in 2023 and will count nearly $20 million against the salary cap due to a contract restructure that took place ahead of last season.
Thielen’s production doesn’t approach his salary level, all but guaranteeing the Vikings cut ties with the hometown favorite unless he’s willing to take a significant pay cut. Spotrac projects Beckham’s market value at roughly $13 million annually across a two-year contract, putting his earning potential more or less in line with what Thielen is scheduled to actually bank in 2023.
However, Beckham’s cap hit would be significantly lower, making such a deal more financially feasible for the organization. Furthermore, Beckham is two years younger than Thielen and has a past reputation of a playmaker a tier above what Thielen has been during even the best days of his career.
Beckham is, without doubt, a serious question mark for any team that takes him on. But following a major injury, his negotiating power is less than it would normally be. In all likelihood, Beckham will be interested in signing a short-term deal in an attempt to prove his ability to produce at a high level and remain healthy, which could then land him a third and final big pay day to cap his NFL career.
That sort of deal suits the financial needs of the Vikings, who are currently $24.5 million over the salary cap. It also offers quarterback Kirk Cousins a legitimate No. 2 option in the wide receiver room, as Minnesota attempts to remain playoff-relevant during a reset year that is going to be full of personnel turnover on both sides of the football.