Adam Thielen

Vikings Activate Josh Doctson

The Vikings have activated wide receiver Josh Doctson, per a club announcement. The former first-round pick could be in line to make his season debut on Sunday with Adam Thielen out for yet another week. 

The Vikings signed Doctson towards the end of August, shortly after cutting Laquon Treadwell, who was taken one spot behind him in the 2016 draft. Treadwell has since returned to Minnesota, meaning that the two may actually take the field together.

Doctson’s next game with Minnesota will be his first in purple – at least, his first in Vikings purple. Before joining the Vikings, Doctson started 26 games across the previous two years for the Redskins, but registered just 79 total catches for 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns. Last year, he placed 96th out of 107 qualifying wideouts in yards per route run last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Those numbers aren’t great, but the potential is still there. His history with quarterback Kirk Cousins may also help.

Besides Doctson, Treadwell, and the injured Thielen, the Vikings also currently have wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Olabisi Johnson in the mix.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Vikings, Conner, JuJu, Lions

The 2017 draft class will become extension-eligible in January, and Dalvin Cook‘s contract figures to be one the key talking points once the calendar flips to the 2020 offseason. The Vikings are one of the few teams to have paid a running back top-market money, via Adrian Peterson‘s $14.4MM-AAV pact from 2011. With Cook’s contract not containing a fifth-year option like Christian McCaffrey‘s does, the Vikings will likely have to address his deal sooner than the Panthers will need to negotiate with their All-Pro candidate. Ezekiel Elliott‘s $15MM-per-year deal represents the new running back benchmark. Although Cook has been injury-prone, he will surely seek a contract in the Elliott-Todd GurleyLe’Veon BellDavid Johnson tax bracket (north of $13MM annually).

Running backs are valuable,” Cook said, via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin. “For guys to get rewarded for how physical, how much they get their bodies ready each and every week to go take that pounding, guys [are] getting rewarded for that. The running back value kind of went down, but I think we’re just as valuable as any position.”

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Adam Thielen will not play Sunday night. The Vikings ruled out their highest-paid wide receiver for Week 10’s Cowboys contest. Thielen has dealt with this hamstring injury since Week 7, missing Minnesota’s game against the Redskins and exiting last week’s Chiefs game after seven snaps.
  • One of Cook’s 2017 draft classmates, James Conner, will also need at least another week to recover from injury. The Steelers ruled out Conner for Week 10. They also added JuJu Smith-Schuster to this week’s injury report Friday. Pittsburgh’s top wideout is questionable to face the Rams with a toe injury.
  • Lions safety Miles Killebrew suffered a concussion during Thursday’s practice, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. The Lions moved Killebrew to linebacker last year, but the trade of Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker‘s knee injury prompted the team to shift Killebrew back to safety recently. UFA addition Tavon Wilson, third-round rookie Will Harris and rookie UDFA C.J. Moore are the Lions’ only healthy safeties. Killebrew and Walker are out for Sunday’s Bears tilt
  • The Lions’ two-year extension for Christian Jones features a short-term sacrifice for a 2020 payment. The deal reduces the linebacker’s 2019 salary from $2.45MM to the veteran minimum, which will be worth approximately $426K for the season’s remainder. In exchange, Jones will receive a $1.97MM signing bonus, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com tweets. The through-2021 deal averages $2.92MM. Detroit tacked on a voidable 2022 year, in order to spread the bonus across three seasons instead of two.

Injury Updates: Bengals, Vikes, Cards, Jets

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had been expected to return to game action in Week 10 against the Ravens, and head coach Zac Taylor even confirmed as much this morning, per Paul Dehner of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Green didn’t practice Wednesday after experiencing ankle swelling during Cincinnati’s walkthrough and is now considered day-to-day, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, so it’s unclear if Green will still be ready for Baltimore. Green hasn’t played a single snap this year after suffering ankle damage during the preseason. When he does return, he’ll be catching passes from a new quarterback (rookie Ryan Finley) as he makes his case for an extension.

Here’s more on the injury front:

  • Adam Thielen returned to action last Sunday following a hamstring injury-induced absence and quickly re-aggravated the ailment, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer disputes that Thielen came back too quickly, tweets Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. While it’s not apparent if Thielen will play against the Cowboys in Week 10, it doesn’t appear the veteran wideout is dealing with a long-term injury. Minnesota faces Denver in Week 11 before heading to its bye, so the Vikings could conceivably take an overly-cautious approach and hold Thielen out until Week 13, although that could be difficult to do given the tight NFC playoff race.
  • Cardinals running back David Johnson has missed the past two games with back and ankle injuries, but he says he’ll “definitely” be playing when Arizona faces off with Tampa Bay this week, per Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com (Twitter link). With both Johnson and backup Chase Edmonds facing health questions, the Cardinals shipped a conditional sixth-round pick to the Dolphins for Kenyan Drake, who proceeded to rush for 110 yards against the 49ers in Week 9.
  • Le’Veon Bell did not suffer any structural damage to his knee in the fourth quarter of a Week 9 loss to the Dolphins, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. While Bell didn’t practice on Wednesday, he is expected to be ready when the Jets face the Colts on Sunday. Gang Green did promote running back Josh Adams from its practice squad earlier this week, but that move was likely executed as a fail-safe against a possible Bell absence.
  • Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett left Week 9 after incurring a left MCL strain, but he was able to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com. That news should at least give Brissett a chance to play against the Dolphins on Sunday, although head coach Frank Reich noted it’s not a “slam dunk” that Brissett is available. Indianapolis would turn to veteran backup Brian Hoyer in Brissett’s absence.

Injury Updates: Brissett, Conner, Thielen

The Colts have been having a surprisingly strong season after Andrew Luck retired, but everyone in Indy was left holding their breath when Jacoby Brissett went down with a knee injury. After the game, head coach Frank Reich said it was a sprain that was “MCL-ish.” Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like Brissett tore anything. Quarterbacks can usually play through MCL sprains, so it doesn’t sound like Brissett will be on the shelf too long. Brian Hoyer filled in and had the Colts in position to win the game late, but Adam Vinatieri missed a 43-yard kick with a minute to go.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Steelers rookie running back Benny Snell had surgery to trim his meniscus recently and will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Snell was a fourth-round pick back in April. Speaking of Pittsburgh’s backfield, starter James Conner didn’t suit up against the Colts today, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that he’s in danger of missing next week’s game against the Rams. For now, Jaylen Samuels will continue to gobble up most of the snaps.
  • Standout rookie UDFA Preston Williams suffered a knee injury, casting a damper on the Dolphins’ first win of the season. Despite going undrafted Williams has become a key player for Miami, starting all of their games thus far. The injury is a “sprained knee and the hope is that it’s not more serious,” tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. We should know more about the severity soon. Williams had five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Jets before going down.
  • Vikings receiver Adam Thielen returned after a one-game absence due to a hamstring injury, and quickly re-aggravated it. He didn’t return to Minnesota’s loss to Kansas City, and while there’s no word yet on the severity, hamstring issues can linger. They’ll likely be more cautious about rushing their star receiver back this time.

Vikings WR Adam Thielen Ruled Out

As expected, the Vikings have officially ruled wide receiver Adam Thielen out for Thursday Night’s matchup against Washington, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Thielen pulled his hamstring in the Vikings win against the Lions on Sunday. 

On the heels of their victory against Detroit, Minnesota stands at 5-2 and in prime of NFC playoff position. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has had an erratic season thus far, but over the past few weeks has been fantastic. He aims to build upon that success next week, but it will have to come without his best best receiver.

Thielen currently leads the league in receiving touchdowns with six and has accrued nearly 400 receiving yards as well. This success is nothing new for Thielen, who has been one of the league’s best wideouts over the past two seasons. While things will obviously be difficult, Stefon Diggs, the team’s number two receiver, would be the number one option on a number of teams around the league.

Furthermore, previous reports suggested the team is hopeful that Thielen will be able to return relatively quickly. It definitely helps their cause that their next opponent, Washington, has been one of the worst teams in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Adam Thielen To Miss Time?

The Vikings picked up another big win Sunday, toppling the Lions in Detroit and moving to 5-2 on the year. It wasn’t all positive for Minnesota however, as they picked up a key injury.

Star receiver Adam Thielen left the game with a pulled hamstring injury and was unable to return. But, on Monday afternoon, he received good news on that front: He’s unlikely to face the Redskins on Thursday night, but there’s optimism that he won’t miss much time, as NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets. That’s a step up from Sunday night’s word – the team was concerned that he’s would be not “day to day, but week to week,” a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com (Twitter link).

Hamstrings can be tricky, so the Vikes hope they will not be without their top option for multiple games. Florio also adds that Thielen will have an MRI tomorrow to determine the severity. The offense started the year slowly as the Vikings limped to a 2-2 record, with Thielen publicly calling out quarterback Kirk Cousins and Cousins apologizing. Ever since then the unit has been on fire, and a large part of that is due to Thielen’s play.

It sounds like Thielen will rest up instead of suiting up on a short week. After that, he’ll try to build on what he’s been doing lately. Over the last three games, Thielen has four touchdowns to his credit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings, Adam Thielen Agree To Extension

The Vikings and star wideout Adam Thielen have agreed to a four-year, $64MM extension with a maximum value of $73MM, per Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. He will earn $35MM in guaranteed money. We heard last month that the two sides were working on a new deal, and they were able to hammer out an agreement that pays Thielen at a rate commensurate with his abilities and recent production.

Thielen had two years and $13.5MM remaining on his present contract, so as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets, it appears as if he is now under team control for the next six seasons at a $77.5MM base value. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Thielen will receive $35MM in guaranteed money.

Of course, extensions can be difficult to come by when a player has more than one year remaining on his contract, but Thielen is not just any player. An undrafted Division II product, Thielen has put together back-to-back 1,200-plus-yard seasons, going for 1,373 and a career-high nine touchdown receptions in 2018. He watched teammate Stefon Diggs sign a five-year, $72MM extension with $40MM guaranteed last summer, and now he has leapfrogged Diggs in terms of average annual value (he is now the sixth-highest paid WR in the league in that regard).

Thielen, who will turn 29 in August, has earned Pro Bowl nods in each of the last two seasons, and he figures to be a critical part of the team’s fortunes going forward. He was due to carry an $8.1MM cap hit this season, but that will likely be reduced as a result of the extension.

His deal continues the Vikings’ trend of locking up core players before they can taste free agency. The team now has a foundation of Thielen, Diggs, Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, Riley Reiff, Shamar Stephen, and Mike Hughes under contract through at least 2021 (hat tip to ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter).

Thielen will address the media tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings, Adam Thielen Discussing Extension

Attempting to correct an imbalance that has developed over the past two years, the Vikings and wide receiver Adam Thielen are discussing a possible extension, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter).

At this juncture, however, sources tell Tomasson that it’s impossible to say whether something will be ironed out soon. Thielen is criminally underpaid, but extensions tend to be tricky when players have two years left on their deal.

In 2017, Thielen signed what turned out to be an incredibly team-friendly deal to stay in Minnesota. That contract pays him less than $5MM on average, though the Pro Bowl wideout will earn just more than $5MM in base salaries the next two seasons. However, Minnesota then rewarded No. 2 receiver Stefon Diggs a five-year, $72MM extension with $40MM guaranteed, creating a strange situation among their wideout group.

An undrafted Division II product, Thielen has put together back-to-back 1,200-plus-yard seasons, going for 1,373 and a career-high nine touchdown receptions in 2018. Minnesota has inked plenty of homegrown veterans to extensions in recent years and has just $5MM in cap space left. So while the Vikings might not be too active in free agency, it appears they are trying to do right by their 28-year-old pass-catcher success story.

Although Thielen has expressed a desire for a new deal, he is not believed to be a threat to hold out. So perhaps the parties can work together this offseason to correct this imbalance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings’ Adam Thielen Wants New Deal

Adam Thielen is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He’s also among the most underpaid players in the league. Thielen’s agent, Blake Baratz, says he’s optimistic about getting an extension hammered out this offseason, but added that his client will not engage in a holdout. 

Adam’s not that type of person,” Baratz told SKOR (via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin). “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.”

Without a holdout, it’s hard to see the Vikings caving. Thielen’s under-market extension has him under contract for just $5.85MM in base salary this season and $6.5MM in 2020. Often times, teams elect to hold off on extension talks until the final season, meaning that the 28-year-old (29 in August) may have to play out one more season at a bargain rate before pushing for a new deal.

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.

Thielen followed up his 91/1,276/4 line in 2017 with a 113/1,373/9 stat line in 2018. The Vikings disappointed on the whole in 2018, but Theilen had an exceptional year en route to his second-straight Pro Bowl appearance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Notable 2019 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters earlier on Wednesday, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter link), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) are in bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were netted last evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Bonuses

  • Ravens S Eric Weddle$1MM; requires Baltimore in playoffs (link): For the second consecutive season, Weddle’s bonus will ride on the ability of the Ravens to earn a postseason berth. Baltimore is one of several teams in the mix for the AFC’s No. 6 seed, but FiveThirtyEight gives the club only a 41% chance of actually making the playoffs. Weddle, who will be entering his age-34 campaign in 2019, could potentially retire or be released before next season starts.
  • Chargers C Mike Pouncey, $500K (link): Pouncey somewhat surprisingly earned a Pro Bowl nod alongside his brother, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. Mike Pouncey hasn’t been a terrible player by any means, but Raiders center Rodney Hudson has undoubtedly been better. Signed to a two-year contract this offeason, Pouncey is due a $6MM base salary and a $1.5MM roster bonus in 2019.
  • Vikings WR Adam Thielen, $500K (link): Thielen, notably, signed arguably the most team-friendly contract in the NFL in March 2017, a three-year deal that’s worth less than $20MM. By picking up a half-million dollar Pro Bowl bonus, Thielen will collect a bit more cash, but he’s still vastly underpaid. Second in the league in receptions, Thielen will count just $11.5MM total on the Vikings’ salary cap over the next two years.
  • Eagles TE Zach Ertz, $100K (link): Ertz will also see his base salaries increase by $250K in each of the 2019, 2020, and 2021 campaigns. He’s already surpassed career-highs in both receptions and yardage, and could top his career-high of eight touchdowns with a strong showing down the stretch.

Escalators

  • Chiefs T Eric Fisher, $500K base salary increase in 2019 (link): While Fisher hasn’t necessarily lived up to his status as a former No. 1 overall pick, he has played nearly every offensive snap for the Chiefs over the past six years while offering respectable play. He’s signed through 2021 as part of a four-year, $48MM extension he inked in 2016. Kansas City’s best tackle — Mitchell Schwartz, who mans the right side — has somehow been named second-team All-Pro for three consecutive years without ever being given a Pro Bowl nod.
  • Lions CB Darius Slay, $550K base salary increase in 2019 (link): Slay needed to reach two of three thresholds in order to earn his escalator. While he hasn’t yet met a five interception requirement, he was named to the Pro Bowl and has played on at least 80% of the Lions’ defensive snaps.
  • Packers WR Davante Adams, $250K base salary increase in 2019 (link): While he’s not quite at Thielen-level in terms of selling himself short, Adams arguably signed his extension with the Packers well before he needed to. Adams took a four-year, $58MM deal in December 2017, just months before he was scheduled to hit the open market. He’s vaunted to true No. 1 wideout status this year, but he’s just the NFL’s ninth-highest-paid wideout in terms of annual average.
  • Eagles G Brandon Brooks, $250K base salary increase in 2019-2020 (link): Brooks, 29, is quietly one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL, and Pro Football Focus currently grades him as the No. 5 guard in the league. He’s signed through the 2020 season, although his contract does contain two void years in 2021-22 that are in place only for salary cap purposes.