The Minnesota Vikings have signed wide receiver Adam Thielen to a three-year deal, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the deal contains $11 million in guarantees, and Adam Garafolo of the NFL Network reports that the deal can get up to $27 million—with a base value of $17 million ($5.7 million per year). It’s important to remember that the max value of the deal is not the actual value of the deal.
That means incentives will play a big role in the 2018 and 2019 cap hits that the Vikings will incur for the first 900-yard receiver the Vikings have had in five years (along with Stefon Diggs).
It’s an excellent move by the Vikings, who have the ability to control costs if Thielen explodes but it’s not so much guaranteed money that they’re staring at a black hole if his inconsistencies dominate play.
At the high end, if he hits all of his incentives, the deal will be worth $9 million a year, which would place 20th among all receivers after adjusting for cap inflation. At the low end, it will be worth $5.7 million a year, ranking 33rd—which is how his contract is listed in Spotrac right now.
Thielen is a deep threat with athleticism that allows him to burn by defenders and has complemented that this year with improved hands and route running. His technical ability has come to match his on-field awareness and he has some room yet to grow. His 1.94 yards per route run ranked 23rd in the league despite the fact that the passing game was stunted by an injured offensive line and a quarterback who hadn’t had a training camp to develop chemistry with receivers.
The Vikings previously offered Thielen a second-round tender, and though he hadn’t signed, he was expected to. Instead, he and the Vikings agreed to a long-term solution that’s probably best for both of them.