Adam Thielen’s Contract Continues to Get More Team-Friendly

After putting together a terrific 2018 season that included 113 receptions, 1375 yards, and nine TDs, Adam Thielen got paid. In April 2019, Thielen inked a 4-yr/$64 million deal that, at the time, was considered a “monstrous” extension. Truly, in 2019, this was an average salary of $16 million was a massive number. Only Sammy Watkins ($19.2 million) and Odell Beckham Jr. ($17 million) carried cap numbers above this mark in 2019, per Over The Cap.

Though he hasn’t quite lived up to those 2019 totals, Thielen’s contract has become increasingly team friendly. This only became more-so when Terry McLaurin signed his extension with the Washington Commanders to remain in D.C. for three years and $71 million. For those that aren’t math wizards, that comes out to an average salary of around $23.67 million. All this for a 27-year-old receiver whose career receiving marks are 87 receptions and 1118 yards from the 2020 season. He’s also never had more than five receiving touchdowns. Thielen’s career-high of 14 nearly triples that amount.

If you’ll recall, Thielen’s contract was restructured this past spring, creating $5.16 million to work with. It did push money into future years though, and that is thought to restrict some of Minnesota’s options moving forward. However, even taking that into account, Thielen’s cap hit of $21.6 million in 2024 is still over $2 million shy of McLaurin’s average.

Of course, the production of a 32-year-old receiver should continue to wane in the years to come as athleticism dips. However, one thing the crafty abilities of Thielen in the red zone should make him a viable receiver for the next few years. The Vikings receiver ranked third in the NFL in receiving touchdowns during both 2020 and 2021.

Not too bad for a guy who has these cap hits and rankings over the next few years, again per Over the Cap:

  • 2022: $11.668 million (11th)
  • 2023: $19.967 million (16th)
  • 2024: $21.655 million (12th)

We also have to keep in mind that these rankings aren’t set in stone by any means. By the time 2023 and 2024 roll around, there’s a good chance Thielen will rank outside of the top-20. There are a number of receivers looking to get paid between now and then. This list includes, in no particular order, DK Metcalf, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Deebo Samuel, Mike Evans, Justin Jefferson, Curtis Samuel, Calvin Ridley, and Chase Claypool. Then there’s the 2021 draft class including Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle that should be looking for extensions from their current teams.

Assuming the salary cap skyrockets in the next few years, as is predicted, it is very feasible that many, if not, all, of these players will carry price tags above the $20 million threshold. Thielen’s main role for the Vikings in recent years has been his prowess near the goal line. This is where he is most valuable as the speedier receivers, like Jefferson, eat up yards in the open field. As long as he continues to remain a threat in this area of the field, Adam Thielen’s contract will be money well spent.