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Minnesota Vikings view Adam Thielen’s $19M cap hit as ‘an issue’, but contract talks are ongoing

Adam Thielen
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

While free agency doesn’t officially open up until March 15, NFL teams are already preparing their offseason spending budgets. For the Minnesota Vikings, who are $21 million over the projected 2023 salary cap, that could mean making tough decisions on Adam Thielen and several other longtime veterans.

Thielen has a cap hit of $19.9 million for the 2023 season, which is reportedly viewed as a problem by the Vikings internally. This should come as no surprise, considering Thielen will be 33 next season and is likely in line to be the team’s third-most targeted receiver behind Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson.

While Thielen could be set to depart his home state of Minnesota after nine seasons with the team, either via trade or as a cap casualty, he’s also on record stating his desire to retire with the Vikings. Now, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, there’s a sense general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, and the rest of the Vikings’ front office will be able to find common ground on a potential contract restructure for the fan favorite.

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Adam Thielen contract restructure may be in the works

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Fowler notes Thielen’s camp and the team have already held “preliminary discussions” regarding a restructure, and it “seems like something they can work out.”

“I want to be able to help a team and show them that I can play at a high level to help them win football games,” he told ESPN. “Will that be in Minnesota? I don’t know. I hope so. I hope to retire a Minnesota Viking. I grew up a Vikings fan watching Cris Carter and Randy Moss, and I want to retire a Viking. Will that happen? I don’t know. This is also a business.”

Adam Thielen on his desire to remain with Minnesota Vikings

It remains to be seen what the Vikings do with Thielen’s massive cap hit in 2023, but you can bet they won’t be paying the full amount owed for a player who is no longer a top target in coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

While Thielen may feel like he can be more productive elsewhere, finding a better opportunity that provides him with plenty of targets and a healthy paycheck while also offering a chance to win now may not exist.

In the end, maybe staying home, even if that means a reduced payday and workload, may be best. Especially if the desire to remain with one franchise for his entire career is as strong as he suggests.

Related: Minnesota Vikings hire Brian Flores: What it means for 2023