Is Adam Thielen entering his last season with the Vikings?

(Photo by David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) Adam Thielen
(Photo by David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) Adam Thielen /

How much longer will Adam Thielen be a member of the Minnesota Vikings?

Around this time back in 2017, the Minnesota Vikings made the decision to use their first-round draft pick on former Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.

The hope for Treadwell was that he would be able to team up with Stefon Diggs to form a dynamic, pass-catching duo for the Vikings. Well, Diggs ended up becoming part of a talented wide receiver duo in Minnesota, but it wasn’t with Treadwell.

Instead, Adam Thielen became Diggs’ partner in crime for multiple years after he took full advantage of an opportunity to be a starter in 2016. Now heading into his eighth season with the Vikings, the days of Thielen catching touchdown passes in a purple and gold uniform could be nearing the end.

Will Adam Thielen remain with the Minnesota Vikings past the 2021 season?

Thielen has turned out to be one of the best players to suit up for Minnesota in a long time. But he’ll be turning 31-years-old in August and the time is getting closer for the Vikings to begin thinking about finding someone to replace him.

Yes, Thielen finished last season with an impressive 14 touchdown catches. But he also hasn’t ended a year with at least 1,000 receiving yards since 2018. Justin Jefferson emerged as Minnesota’s top target during the final few games of last season and it probably won’t be long until Thielen ends up being the third or fourth receiving target in the team’s offense.

With this year’s draft pool featuring another deep group of wide receivers, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Vikings used one of their early-round selections on a new pass-catcher. Ideally, they would probably like to find someone who can take over as the team’s No. 2 receiver whenever the time comes for Thielen to be shown the door.

When that will actually happen remains to be seen. Some might believe that Minnesota could consider moving on from Thielen after the 2021 season. But the current terms of his contract make a scenario like this feel unlikely.

If the Vikings were to release or trade the veteran during the 2022 offseason, it would only free up about $6 million in cap space. But if Minnesota parts ways with him in 2023, the cap space created jumps to just over $11 million. 

The Vikings could also cut him in 2022 and designate the move as a June 1 release to free up more than $12.5 million in cap space. Minnesota just did something similar with Kyle Rudolph, but this hasn’t been a method the current regime typically uses when they cut players.

So for those worried about the upcoming 2021 campaign possibly being the last with Thielen on the Vikings roster, unless he’s part of a deal during next season’s trade deadline, don’t expect his possible departure to happen until 2023 at the earliest.