Insider Reveals Surprising Future for Adam Thielen If He Leaves Vikings

Adam Thielen

Getty Adam Thielen

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen‘s future in the NFL is uncertain if he cannot reach an agreement on restructuring his contract with the Vikings.

The prevailing thought has been that the Vikings would cut Thielen if he doesn’t come down from his $19.9 million cap hit that ranks 14th among wide receivers.

However, there is another option.

Despite salary cap expert Jason Fitzgerald finding Thielen to have no trade value at his age, per SKOR North, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the soon-to-be 33-year-old receiver could garner some trade interest.

“The Vikings are open to Thielen returning in 2022. Sides have had preliminary talks. But his $19.967 million cap hit is an issue (probably more so than his $13.3 million in cash), and he would have trade interest, so the team and player must find a sweet spot for him to retire a Viking. Seems like something they can work out,” Fowler wrote on February 11.

Trading for a player at Thielen’s age is a bit taboo considering the regression and concern for injury. However, for teams who are a proven second- or third-option in the passing game away from making a run, Thielen could be worth the gamble.

Cutting or trading Thielen before June 1 wouldn’t be ideal — the $13.6 million in dead cap attached with a pre-June 1 move would dwarf the $6.4 million in cap space created. However, a trade would recoup some draft capital that could be used to draft Thielen’s replacement.

Thielen wouldn’t fetch anything more than a sixth- or seventh-round pick at this stage in his career. But an extra pick would be a valuable trading chip needed for the Vikings to throw in a draft-day trade to move up on the board.

Minnesota currently has four picks in the 2023 draft: the 24th overall pick, the 88th pick (third round) and fourth- and fifth-round picks that have yet to be finalized. Moving into the second round should be a priority for the Vikings with many needs to address this offseason.

 Adam Thielen Appears Open to Pay Cut With Vikings

Making media appearances during Super Bowl week, Thielen addressed his contractual limbo with the Vikings.

“We’re working through some stuff because I got a big cap hit,” Thielen said on The Pat McAfee Show on February 9, adding that his representatives are in the middle of contract talks with the Vikings.

“They’re going to try to do something, so we’ll see,” Thielen added.

While Thielen is set to be paid like a top-20 wide receiver, his production last season slid outside the top 50 wide receivers in the league last season. Thielen saw his role in the offense tank in the final five games of the season after the arrival of tight end T.J. Hockenson and K.J. Osborn taking a leap forward.

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.

Thielen has advocated that he wants to remain a central part of his team’s offense wherever he may land next season and opened up about the idea of moving on from Minnesota.

“I want to be able to help a team and show them that I can play at a high level to help them win football games,” he told ESPN on February 9. “Will that be in Minnesota? I don’t know. I hope so. I hope to retire a Minnesota Viking. I grew up a Vikings fan watching Cris Carter and Randy Moss, and I want to retire a Viking. Will that happen? I don’t know. This is also a business.”

Adam Thielen Must Be Realistic In His Role With Vikings

The Vikings offense during Thielen’s prime years was a pick-your-poison dilemma for opposing defenses with Stefon Diggs and Thielen. But four years since Thielen’s last Pro Bowl, it’s clear he’s not the same player. 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. With Hockenson becoming the No. 2 target in the offense and younger wide receivers continuing to push for more playing time, Thielen’s future in Minnesota will be a specialized role.

He’s still one of the best route-runners in the league and has the hands to make him a reliable option in the red zone.

But if Thielen truly believes he deserves a larger role than he had last season, he may find himself elsewhere for the final years of his career.

Read More