Adam Thielen Might Be Fed up with Vikings

There is no way that the Minnesota Vikings will make it to the next training camp without a substantial shakeup to the roster that won 13 games this season. Facing salary cap issues and age problems, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has his hands full. And one of those subjects is almost certainly Adam Thielen.

Unless you’ve lived under a rock since 2014, you know that Adam Thielen is among the greatest work ethic stories the Minnesota Vikings have ever seen. An undrafted rookie out of Minnesota State Mankato, Thielen worked his way from the practice squad, through special teams, ultimately to an All-Pro level. He has been every bit a fan-favorite, and seeing him in another uniform is nearly unfathomable.

Adam Thielen Might Be Fed up with Vikings

Then again, it very well may happen as soon as 2023.

This season was Thielen’s least productive as a starter in the NFL. Despite playing 17 games, he posted only 716 yards on 70 catches. He was targeted 107 times but averaged a career-low 10.2 yards per reception. Although he did remain a reliable red zone threat, Thielen’s touchdown production also dropped off, where he finished with just six on the season.

Adam Thielen Might Be
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

As a veteran leader and captain does, Thielen likely swallowed his pride. With the emergence of superstar Justin Jefferson, he sat and watched as the youngster racked up records and yardage. He was a chief supporter of Jefferson and fellow wideout K.J. Osborn, all while they were chipping into his production. Now facing a looming contract situation, more may be happening behind the scenes.

Following the loss against New York in the first round of the playoffs, Thielen’s wife Caitlin seemed to suggest on social media that they would likely be headed elsewhere next season. That’s hard to imagine for the homegrown talent, but at the end of the day, the league is a business, and contracts aren’t guaranteed. Thielen signed a four-year deal worth more than $64 million, but Minnesota can move on this offseason with a dead cap number of just over $16 million.

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) catches a pass against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota would likely want to restructure their deal with Thielen to keep him wearing purple, but the bigger hit would be in expected production. After seeing such a diminished role in 2022, Thielen would likely cede opportunities to Osborn and whatever pass catcher is brought in ahead of time.

There is no reason for Thielen to admit it, but aging is undoubtedly part of this equation. Clearly, he lost a step this season, and his ability to separate has definitely gone downhill. Never previously a burner, Thielen has long relied on solid footwork and crisp route running to beat defenders.

Dalvin Cook Uses Chalkboard Treatment for Fine
Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) and running back Dalvin Cook. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

No matter what happens, I’d expect some very tough conversations. The front office will need to ask Thielen to make concessions he won’t want to, and if he does want to continue playing, it will likely need to be for a team he never planned on seeing.

When the dust settles on his career, there should be a place in the Vikings Ring of Honor for him, but that might come with a weird cameo in between.

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.