The details of Thielen’s new deal were revealed in an Instagram post by Team IFA, the agency that represents the 28-year-old receiver. Thielen is set to make $64 million with the extension on a deal worth up to $73 million with incentives. NFL Network is reporting that Thielen received $35 million in guaranteed money.
The Vikings’ front office continued their tendency of rewarding players with lucrative extensions years before their contracts are up. Thielen, who had two years remaining on the four-year extension he signed in March 2017, had outplayed his current contract — which was set to pay him around $8 million in 2019. He will now be making an average of $16 million per year.
Thielen is one of eight players under contract in Minnesota through the 2022 season, a list that also includes Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, Linval Joseph and Xavier Rhodes.
Thielen’s rise from an undrafted free agent who joined the Vikings after a rookie tryout in May 2013 has been well documented. The Pro Bowler is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons, marking a career-high 1,373 yards (fourth most in franchise history) and 113 receptions (third most in franchise history) and nine receiving touchdowns in 2018.
Last season, the former Division II product became the first player in NFL history to record eight consecutive games with 100-plus receiving yards to start a season.
According to the NFL Players Association public salary-cap report, the Vikings have just over $2 million in cap space. Before Thielen signed his extension, the wide receiver was on the books with an $8.1 million cap hit for 2019. It’s possible that his number remains close to that, even with the extension, but it could be lowered, allowing the Vikings the flexibility to make other offseason moves and pay their draft class later this month.
With Thielen’s new deal expected to keep him in Minnesota through the 2024 season, the Vikings get to retain one of the league’s best receiving duos. Both Thielen and Diggs were the first Minnesota wideouts to both reach 1,000 yards receiving in the same season in 2018 since Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Cris Carter achieved the same feat in 2000.
Diggs signed a five-year extension last offseason. Both Diggs and Thielen can earn $9 million in incentives over the course of their respective contracts.
Despite finances being tight in Minnesota as it pertains to the salary cap, the idea of a contract extension for one of the league’s most productive receivers has been on the table for a while. Blake Baratz, Thielen’s agent, spoke about the situation on Purple Daily on ESPN affiliate SKOR North in February, and remained hopeful that a deal would get done this offseason.
“No one’s being greedy,” Baratz said. “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.”