Under GM Rick Spielman, The Minnesota Vikings have a pretty good history of identifying young talent and signing them to a contract extension before they hit the open market. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen are two players that come to mind, and both guys signed big extensions before they became first rate stars in the NFL.
Adam Thielen’s story is a bit different (and no, I’m not going to mention he went undrafted and is from Minne—SON OF A).
He signed a three year contract extension in 2017, with only $11 million in guaranteed money. He was coming off a 62 catch, 967 yard season, with 5 TD’s. At the time, it seemed like a fair deal for both sides—Thielen looked like a quality WR that would put up consistent numbers that would line up with that contract, and the Vikings kept a productive player for what was considered a fairly even deal for both sides.
Only Thielen blew up and became a legit star in the NFL and a weapon as a WR, vastly outplaying his contract. In the last two seasons since signing his deal, he’s caught over 200 passes, amassed over 1,500 yards receiving, he’s emerged as a legitimate number one receiver, and is one of the ten best WR’s in the NFL.
That’s been great for the Vikings, and now Adam Thielen’s agent, Blake Baratz, would like the Vikings to give Thielen a raise and give him a contract worthy of a number one receiver. Baratz was on SKOR North radio (the artist formerly known as 1500 ESPN) on Matthew Coller’s show, and some highlights of the interview:
"I know they want Adam there, I know they want to reward Adam...I'm cautiously optimistic...everyone understands the situation"— Matthew Coller (@MatthewColler) February 19, 2019
Blake Baratz, Adam Thielen's agent, on @SKORNorth:— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) February 19, 2019
"I'm cautiously optimistic that everyone will come around and do the right thing...everyone understands the situation...it's really in their court...he's earned a significant pay raise."
"We're all hopeful that it'll get done." https://t.co/FPRf7TxqeI
I agree that Thielen has deserved a raise, but there are two issues with getting an extension done for him right now. The Vikings have already paid Stefon Diggs number one receiver money, inking him to a 5 year, $72 million dollar deal last year, with $40 million guaranteed. In and of itself, Diggsy’s contract isn’t the issue, nor is paying two WR’s number one WR money; it’s the other contracts the Vikings have that find them a bit hard up against the cap right now. Cap space estimates are at around $6-7 million right now, but as players are cut and other deals are re-done when the new league year begins next month, they’ll probably get that number close to $30 million.
Normally, $30 million wouldn’t be a problem in terms of getting a deal done, either, but the Vikings have some choices to make on the defensive side of the ball. Anthony Barr and Sheldon Richardson are guys the Vikings need to prioritize over a new Thielen deal, if they want to re-sign them at all. In free agency, the Vikings will also be looking for some offensive line help, so although I’m not saying it will be impossible, if the Vikes and Thielen get a contract extension worked out, it would just go to show that Vikings capologist Rob Brzezinski is a true wizard, with the white beard, staff, and all that other stuff that goes with it.
Now, in the interview, not one time (unless I missed it) did Baratz mention Thielen holding out, or demanding a trade, or anything similar you’ve heard regarding Steelers WR Antonio Brown and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. On the contrary, it seems like both sides know that getting a new deal done is something that should be done, there’s a ton of mutual respect on both sides, and that both sides understand the situation, from all perspectives.
Whether it will be done, though, remains to be seen.