Vikings Fans Are on ‘Thielen Watch’

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On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings parted ways with linebacker Eric Kendricks, igniting a firestorm of intrigue about “the next guy” to leave the organization.

And based on salary cap figures, the next man could reasonably be Jordan Hicks, C.J. Ham, Dalvin Cook, Za’Darius Smith, Chris Reed — or perhaps even Adam Thielen.

Vikings Fans Are on
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Thielen joined the Vikings in 2013 as an undrafted free agent and clawed his way up the depth chart to WR1 by the start of 2016. As a native Minnesotan, his story is well-documented, and rightfully so. He’s a Viking through and through.

But in 2023, the Detroit Lakes-born wideout is scheduled to inflict a cap hit of $19.9 million against Minnesota’s ledger, which may not be agreeable for his current on-the-field production. In 2022, will all the Vikings opponents’ attention shifting toward Justin Jefferson, Thielen tabulated 716 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.

Vikings Fans Are on ‘Thielen Watch’

Those numbers are not bad, but they’re also not worth $20 million. If so, the Vikings would have to hope and pray for a career rejuvenation, and those don’t typically occur for wide receivers at age 33.

5 Vikings Have Not Met
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To the public, Thielen has affirmed his desire to remain with the Vikings in 2023. He said on ESPN’s First Take right before the Super Bowl, “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.”

“We’re working through some stuff because I have a big cap hit. They’re gonna try to do something, but we’ll see,” Thielen replied on The Pat McAfee Show in the same week.

Thielen doesn’t want to leave — why would he? — but the man also shouldn’t electively take a pay reduction. Would you take less money at your job after your boss made contractually-binding promises? Unlikely.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

So, as of Monday afternoon, Vikings fans are on Thielen Watch, hoping to determine his career next steps. Vikings Central tweeted Monday, “My best guess is Adam Thielen is next man up and I expect an announcement by tomorrow. Gonna be a tough pill to swallow but it’s time.”

Ted Glover from Vikings Report with Drew & Ted opined, “Now let’s move on from Hicks, Thielen, and Cook.”

VikingsTerritory’s Ali Siddiqui posted to social media, “Dalvin Cook and Jordan Hicks I think will be cut. Za’Darius Smith, Harrison Smith, Brian O’Neill, and Adam Thielen get restructured.”

Climb the Pocket’s Myles Gorham tweeted, “Vikings save 9.5M so they’re now still around -14M [after releasing Eric Kendricks]. Guessing the next moves could be the O’Neill restructure, H. Smith restructure/paycut, Ham and Thielen cuts and maybe a Hicks paycut or release.”

Analyst Drops Daunting
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Purple For the Win jokingly commented, “If the Vikings trade Thielen, does Blake Proehl go with him? Is it a package deal?”

The ‘legal tampering’ phase of free agency begins on March 13th, and a decision on Thielen for 2023 is expected by then.

The Vikings are $15.6 million over the cap after the Kendricks release.


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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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