Vikings wideout Adam Thielen has out-priced his stay in Minnesota and could be a cap casualty this offseason.
Adam Thielen could be considered something of a hometown hero on the Minnesota Vikings having been raised in the state and played on his hometown team for the last nine years. Unfortunately, he may need to grow new roots elsewhere.
As the Vikings look to make money moves to get under the salary cap this offseason, Thielen holds the second-highest cap hit (roughly $20 million) on the team behind Kirk Cousins. His contract is naturally under an immense amount of scrutiny, more so since the Vikings have a mid-March deadline at which point Thielen’s $11.8 million base salary turns into guaranteed money.
The 32-year-old receiver restructured his deal in years past to provide cap relief, but all of that is catching up to him now — and he knows it.
In a recent appearance on the Pat McAfee show, Thielen mentioned that he and the team were “working through some stuff….They’re going to try to do something, but we’ll see.” Basically, his future is up in the air, and if anything, Thielen’s extra-cautious words lean toward him leaving rather than staying.
Vikings may part ways with Adam Thielen to save cap space in 2023
“We’ll see” is never a strong indication of confidence, and it’s getting difficult to justify Thielen’s cap number given his advanced age and waning impact on the field.
Last year, Thielen was targeted 107 times, a seemingly good sign that he remains a pivotal piece in the Vikings’ offensive scheme. In high-stakes games such as the Wild Card matchup against the New York Giants, however, Thielen recorded just three catches for 50 yards.
His perennial declining yardage is also concerning as Thielen posted a career-low 10.2 yards per catch in 2022. Vastly overshadowed by superstar teammate Justin Jefferson, Thielen simply may not have a place in the Viking’s long-term plans anymore, plans which may favor younger playmakers like T.J. Hockenson, K.J Osborn, and Jalen Reagor.
Thielen has made it clear he wants to retire as a Viking and could potentially still restructure his contract or take a pay cut to extend his stay, yet the message he’s getting from the franchise is loud and clear: You’re expendable.
To salvage his pride and make the most out of his twilight years, Thielen may have to grapple with the hard truths and start looking for a new home in 2023.