E Point Perfect

Could This Be Adam Thielen’s Last Dance?


Nov 16, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports.

When the Minnesota Vikings take the field on Sunday against the New York Giants, they’ll be looking to extend their season and keep the Super Bowl hopes alive. For Adam Thielen, a veteran about to play in his sixth career playoff game, it may be his last.

Unless you’ve lived under a rock, you know Adam Thielen’s story by now. Undrafted out of Minnesota State Mankato, Thielen worked his way from the practice squad, through special teams, into a prominent wide receiver role. By 2017 he was named to an All-Pro team, and by 2018, he was a two-time Pro Bowler.

Could This Be Adam Thielen’s Last Dance?

Thielen has naturally become a fan-favorite carrying the familiarity of a hometown kid. He is an everyman type of player that brings it every time he steps on the field. He has shown a substantial character and is undoubtedly a good human being off the field. Seeing him blossom into such a fantastic talent on the field has only heightened the desires of Vikings fans wanting him to succeed.

Could This Be Adam
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

While all of that is true, it’s beyond evident that Thielen’s production and usage inside Kevin O’Connell’s offense changed in 2022. Having been likely slowed by both the season-ending surgery a year ago and the traditional process of aging, it’s clear that Thielen does not possess the same level of athleticism he did even a few seasons ago. Without the ability to separate on routes or footwork, it is much harder for throwing lanes to open up, and even with great hands, Thielen leaves little room for error.

Down the stretch this season, it became somewhat apparent that the Vikings may have been grooming K.J. Osborn into a more significant threat. He produced his first 100-yard game, then replicated that feat just a couple of weeks later. While Justin Jefferson is truly an elite talent, his abilities are on full display when other playmakers are generating coverage and increasing the opportunity for him to catch the football.

Sep 29, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Around the trade deadline, Minnesota was already looking for another pass catcher to add to their offense. Wide receiver was a target in hopes of spreading the field between Thielen and Jefferson. They wound up with tight end T.J. Hockenson, whose presence has proven massive. There is no reason the talented tight end shouldn’t be on the roster next season, and that will only further diminish Thielen’s role.

Next season, Thielen’s contract has nearly a $20 million cap hit. That seems an untenable amount and would certainly need to be renegotiated. Without being a salary whizz, I don’t want to speculate how Minnesota handles that. I find it unlikely to believe that Thielen is ready to retire, but I also can’t imagine him playing in another uniform. Maybe the Vikings can find common ground that makes something work for everyone involved.

Dec 23, 2019; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talks with Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. . Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s already apparent that Thielen has accepted a lesser role in the offense and continues to mentor youth while being a great leader on the sidelines. That has value in and of itself, and the Vikings wanting to keep a personality like that around should be a must.

Hopefully, Minnesota has more playoff games with Thielen suited up for them, but if this is it, he’ll need to make it count.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.


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