MINNEAPOLIS — In past offseasons, the Minnesota Vikings have doled out contract extensions to a handful of players ahead of when their current deals were set to expire. It’s the way the franchise rewarded the likes of Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs during the 2018 offseason.
Another Viking who could be in line for an extension this offseason is Adam Thielen. The wide receiver signed a four-year deal worth $19.246 million in 2017, which will earn him around $8 million next season.
Speaking on SKOR North, an ESPN radio affiliate in the Twin Cities, Thielen’s agent, Blake Baratz, indicated a belief that an extension for the two-time Pro Bowl receiver could be reached this offseason and that it wouldn’t come via a holdout by Thielen if both parties couldn’t come to an agreement.
“Adam’s not that type of person,” Baratz said of the receiver holding out. “I would never condone a player to hold out or be disruptive if it wasn’t for a very valid reason, and [what’s not] a valid reason, to me, is both sides working in good faith to come to a conclusion that makes sense for everybody.”
Thielen’s record-breaking season and career highs in catches (113), yards (1,373) and touchdowns (9) have lead many, including his representation, to believe he has outplayed his current contract.
“This team has a lot of really good things in place for it, and I know they want to take care of Adam and I know they want Adam there and I know they want to reward Adam,” Baratz said. “What exactly that looks like and when that happens, I can’t speak to yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic that everyone will come around and do the right thing. There’s not — no one’s being greedy. Everyone understands the situation and it’s really in their court. He has a couple of years left on his deal but he’s earned a significant pay raise. Not to mention what he’s done on the field, he might be one of the best people in the entire National Football League and represents the city and the organization and state and frankly, the entire region unbelievably.”
Added Baratz: “We’re all hopeful that it’ll get done.”
At the start of last training camp, Diggs inked a five-year deal worth $72 million with a $15 million signing bonus. While it isn’t clear whether those figures are what Thielen and his representation are eyeing, a similar deal would put the 28-year-old receiver among the top 10 highest paid at his position.
“In a perfect world, we’d like to get something done,” Baratz said. “We’re going to sit down here and have conversations in these coming weeks and we’ll see where that leads us. I think everyone knows that Adam deserves a new contract. It’s not as simple as just doing a high-level extension in a vacuum. There’s other pieces and the Vikings have done a phenomenal job of managing their salary cap. Rob Brzezinski is one of the best in the game at what he does. It’s not just ‘How do we reward Adam Thielen?’ It’s how do we put our 53-man roster together that also allows for us to have continued success into the future. And I understand that. I have a job to do and Rob and Rick and the Vikings have a job to do, and we respect what each other does. It doesn’t mean we always have to agree, but we respect what each other has to do as our profession.”
Prior to 2018, an argument could be made that the Minnesota Vikings had NFL’s the best wide receiver duo on their roster in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. But after this past season, there should be no doubts about Diggs and Thielen being regarded as the absolute best receiving duo in the league today.
Apparently this still isn’t the belief for everyone though. NFL Media’s Gil Brandt is among those who aren’t on board with Diggs and Thielen being considered as the league’s top wide receiver duo heading into the 2019 season.
Brandt recently ranked his top 11 NFL receiving duos for 2019 and the Vikings’ pair of pass catchers came in second on the list. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry of the Cleveland Browns are currently the best wide receiver duo in the league according to his ranking.
Beckham and Landry are certainly talented, but let’s not award them with any titles just yet considering they haven’t even played a meaningful game together.
Diggs and Thielen are entering their fifth season as teammates in Minnesota and it doesn’t appear that they have even hit their peak yet. It’s not a crazy thought to have that these two current members of the Vikings make uo the best receiving duo the franchise has seen since the days of Cris Carter and Randy Moss during the early 2000s.
In their last 32 regular season games together, Diggs and Thielen have combined for 379 catches, 4,616 yards, and 31 touchdowns. Last year, they became the first two Minnesota wide receivers to both finish a single season with at least 1,000 yards since Carter and Moss did it in 2000.
The NFL Draft is fun and flashy for the first few rounds, but teams know that the hard work takes place in rounds four to seven. That is where all the scouts’ information and their hours of intense study and evaluations really become important for teams like the Minnesota Vikings.
Nothing is more satisfying for a scouting department than to find a starting caliber player when the draft is waning down on that last Saturday. It may not hold the drama and excitement of the earlier rounds, but Day 3 of the draft is extremely important to NFL teams.
The Vikings are no exception to this, as they’ve uncovered plenty of talent in the later rounds.
In part four of this ongoing series, we will take a look at a large offensive lineman from Florida, a big-bodied wide receiver from Notre Dame, and a hard-hitting safety from the West Coast, and gauge the Minnesota Vikings’ interest in them.