E Point Perfect

Vikings Fans Still Feelin’ Thielen?


Vikings Fans Still Feelin' Thielen?
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

For a long time, you would be hard-pressed to find a more popular player among the Minnesota Vikings faithful than Adam Thielen.

The local boy who had done good. The native of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, came up the hard way. A college career at Minnesota State, playing in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, led to him unsurprisingly being undrafted in 2013.

Thielen managed to impress in a rookie tryout with the Vikings and was given a contract before being waived as part of the final roster cuts. He was then signed to the practice squad and has been a Viking ever since — living out the dream of every Vikings fan, playing for the team he grew up supporting.

His career would go to unimaginable heights when he went undrafted in 2013 — a second-team All-Pro wide receiver in 2017 and a two-time Pro Bowler. Thielen established himself as one of the best receivers in the game.

Vikings Fans Still Feelin’ Thielen?

Thielen is now 32 years old and will be 33 by the time next season kicks off. There are signs of disgruntlement among the Vikings fan base that Thielen can no longer be Vikings WR2. Those feeling are exasperated every time Justin Jefferson has a quiet game, as he did last week in Green Bay.

Vikings Fans Still Feelin
Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Jefferson has failed to make the 50 receiving yards mark in a game five times this season. With the opposing team selling out to stop Jefferson, Thielen could not take over those games as your second receiver must. Particularly in the style of offense Kevin O’Connell wants to play, T.J. Hockenson has come in at tight end and become the defacto second receiver.

To get the best out of this offense, the Vikings need another legitimate top-tier WR2. In the short term, Minnesota can try utilizing K.J. Osborn more. His performance on the epic comeback against Indianapolis felt like a breakout game but was followed by a game with only four targets against the Giants. The other option is Jalen Nailor, who showed what he could do in Green Bay, albeit in a game that was already lost.

Thielen’s Future

About the Forecasted Adam Thielen Decline 
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Looking toward the long term, it’s difficult to see a future for Thielen in Minnesota. Not because he doesn’t have anything to offer — on the contrary, he still possesses a safe pair of hands and can make plays. He has 708 receiving yards and five touchdowns this season and offers leadership as a veteran.

The problem is he has a cap hit of just shy of $20 million in 2023; of that, $13.55 million is dead money.

It’s even worse in 2024, where his cap hit is over $21.6 million, although only $7 million is dead money. Years of backloading his contract through extensions and restructures are coming home to roost — as it is with many players on the Vikings roster.

Thielen is undoubtedly on the decline as he enters the twilight of his playing career. What he can offer the team doesn’t marry up with those massive cap hits. When Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell came on board, difficult decisions regarding popular veteran players were expected. They opted to keep most of the team together for a competitive rebuild, and the Vikings have been competitive this season. Going into Year 2, I expect more of the rebuild to involve moving on from expensive veterans.

The Future at WR

Vikings Have Begun Practicing for Playoffs
Dec 20, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

If Thielen’s future does lie away from Minnesota, that leaves a spot on the roster for a wide receiver. Some Vikings fans want the team to go and draft a potential star in the first round of next year’s draft. That’s certainly a possibility. However, there is also free agency and the trade market to explore. 

The Vikings have lots of work to do when it comes to defense. Again, all three avenues are open for Minnesota to add players to the roster, and I would expect some significant changes on that side of the ball.

Whichever way the Vikings decide to address the wide receiver position, I believe significant resources should be put into finding a partner for Jefferson, who can take some pressure off the Vikings main man.


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