Kevin O’Connell Updates Adam Thielen’s Status with Vikings

Adam Thielen Gets
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The Minnesota Vikings have an intriguing decision on Adam Thielen’s future with the franchise, a team that has employed him since 2013.

Thielen will turn 33 this summer and incur a $19.9 million cap hit against the Vikings salary cap. Some believe that is too rich for an aging playmaker and have subsequently speculated about Thielen’s fate in 2023.

Kevin O’Connell Updates Adam Thielen’s Status with Vikings

Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell provided a bit of clarity on Thielen’s status at the NFL Combine this week, touting the veteran’s leadership while hoping to mesh his pricetag with the fit in Minnesota’s 2023 WR room.

Updates Adam
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“When you have the receiver that leads the league in yards and receptions and have three other guys with 60-plus, you feel really strongly about that group, and I still think that there’s places to go where we can build upon it even more,” O’Connell mentioned about Justin Jefferson and his wide receiving corps.

O’Connell continued, “Adam is one of those leaders that I speak of. His teammates voted him as a captain for what he means not only to our organization but the Twin Cities. We’re going to continue to take a look at what’s the best route to go moving forward in that room, as are all the other rooms. I think there’s a conversation to be had to really see what that looks like: playing time and roles and responsibilities.”

Vikings Depth Chart -- Week 17 at Bears
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Thielen joined the Vikings a decade ago as an undrafted special teamer and clawed his way up the depth chart to WR1 by the start of 2016. He’s the epitome of a hometown hero, universally loved, and the type of player who “should” retire with the Vikings. He was also born in Minnesota. Thielen notched 716 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in 2022.

O’Connell also referenced “fair compensation” for his players at the NFL Combine, perhaps a nod to Thielen’s current contract and how it fits within Minnesota’s free-agent navigability.

7 Predictions for
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Before the Super Bowl, Thielen said on ESPN’s First Take, “I want to retire a Viking. Will that happen? I don’t know. This is also a business. And I also want my opportunity to show that I can play at a high level. So, we’ll see what happens.”

Therefore, with free agency 11 days away, the Vikings and Thielen are firmly in the “see what happens” phase of the offseason, described by Thielen. If the Vikings parted ways with Thielen via outright release or trade, they’d face three plausible options for 2023’s WR2:

  1. Draft a WR with early-round draft capital
  2. Sign a D.J. Chark or Allen Lazard-type in free agency
  3. Promote K.J. Osborn from WR3 to WR2

For now, O’Connell views Thielen as an unabashed team leader, but the front office must determine the fair compensation for his cap hit.

Since the start of 2019, Thielen ranks fifth in the NFL in touchdown receptions (36), trailing only Davante Adams (48), Mike Evans (41), Tyreek Hill (38), and Travis Kelce (37).

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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