Adam Thielen

NFC Notes: D. Johnson, D. Williams, Thielen

Although it was not expected that the two sides would be able to come to terms before the start of the season, the Cardinals and David Johnson agreed to a three-year extension yesterday that will keep Johnson in the desert through 2021. Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the key to getting the deal done was the team’s agreement to give Johnson a short-term extension that gives him a chance to hit free agency again at a time when a new CBA will be in place and when owners’ income streams will be at an all-time high thanks to renewed TV deals and gambling revenue.

As Week 1 gets underway in earnest, let’s take a look at more news from around the NFC:

  • Former NFL agent Joel Corry is less optimistic about Johnson’s chances to cash in a second time. Although he thinks the Cardinals‘ tailback did well for himself with his new deal, he points out (via Twitter) that Johnson will be 30 by the time he is eligible for unrestricted free agency again, so he will need to defy conventional wisdom concerning RBs to get another big contract.
  • Just last month, it appeared as though the Panthers would have to place starting right tackle Daryl Williams on IR, but Carolina finally got some good news with respect to its O-line. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Williams has a good chance to start the team’s opener against the Cowboys this afternoon, and that the structural damage to his injured knee is minimal. That is good news for Williams as well, as he is eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of the year.
  • Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has a number of incentives that could boost his $4.85MM 2018 salary, but even if he hits all of those incentives, Thielen will still be significantly underpaid relative to the WR market. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune details the incentives and suggests that, if Thielen performs in 2018 has he did in 2017, his reps could approach Minnesota about redoing his current contract, which runs through 2020.
  • Eagles QB Carson Wentz could return to action in Week 3.
  • Cowboys DE Randy Gregory could be suspended yet again after suffering a relapse.

Vikings’ Adam Thielen Has Back Fractures

Although he’s expected to play against the Eagles in tonight’s NFC Championship Game, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen had been listed as questionable throughout the week due to a back injury. That ailment is reportedly more serious than originally thought, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).Adam Thielen (Vertical)

Thielen is dealing with slight fractures in his lower back which are — unsurprisingly — “extremely” painful, per Rapoport. The injury was suffered on a hit by Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore in last week’s Divisional Round contest. While pain tolerance could seemingly be an issue for Thielen during today’s game, he’s expected to manage the discomfort in order to play.

One of the more notable receiver breakout stories in recent memory, Thielen played in all 16 of Minnesota’s regular-season games and suited up for the Vikings’ thrilling walk-off win last Sunday. The 27-year-old Division II product landed on the NFC Pro Bowl roster after a 91-reception, 1,276-yard, four-touchdown slate. He missed practice on Wednesday and went through a limited session Thursday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Thielen, Sendejo Expected To Play Vs. Eagles

The Vikings have not let key injuries at quarterback or running back deter them this season, and their top wide receiver is set to be available in the franchise’s biggest game in eight years Sunday night.

Adam Thielen will play despite being listed as questionable due to a lower back injury, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports. Starting safety Andrew Sendejo will join him in playing despite a recent injury, per Schefter.

One of the more notable receiver breakout stories in recent memory, Thielen played in all 16 of Minnesota’s regular-season games and suited up for the Vikings’ thrilling divisional-round walk-off win. The 27-year-old Division II product landed on the NFC Pro Bowl roster after a 91-reception, 1,276-yard, four-touchdown slate. He missed practice on Wednesday and went through a limited session Thursday.

Sendejo still needs to clear final concussion protocol to play Sunday night, but Schefter reports he’s anticipated to do so. Mike Zimmer said this week he’s optimistic the veteran Harrison Smith sidekick will play; Sendejo returned to practice on Wednesday despite leaving a concussion sidelining him during the Vikings’ Round 2 win.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Re-Sign WR Adam Thielen

The Vikings have re-signed restricted free agent Adam Thielen. The wide receiver gets a three-year deal from Minnesota, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Thielen can make up to $27MM over those three years, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal carries a base value of $17MM and includes $11MM guaranteed. "<strong

Initially, the Vikings placed a second-round tender on Thielen, which was probably about right for a player at his level. The receiver racked up 967 receiving yards last year after totaling 281 in his previous two NFL campaigns. The second-round tender would have paid him $2.81MM and, of course, forced another team to cough up a second-round choice if successful in signing Thielen away. We did not hear word of any team considering an offer sheet, however.

Theilen now returns to the Vikings one day after Cordarrelle Patterson was lured away in free agency. Stefon Diggs, Jairus Wright, Laquon Treadwell, and Isaac Fruechte remain with the team. Even without Patterson, the Vikings have one of the league’s most fearsome groups of wide receivers on paper.

In other Vikings news, the team re-signed cornerback Terence Newman on Wednesday morning.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Expected To Apply Second-Round Tender To Adam Thielen

Adam Thielen‘s breakout 2016 season looks set to generate a reward for the fourth-year wide receiver while making him less attractive to other teams as free agency nears. The Vikings are expected to place a second-round tender on Thielen, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (on Twitter).

Tomasson adds that a near-future extension is still possible for Thielen, who emerged with 967 receiving yards last season after totaling 281 in his previous two NFL seasons. The second-round tender is slated to be worth $2.81MM. The 26-year-old pass-catcher made $600K last season. Thielen’s agent, Blake Baratz, said in February the wideout has his eye on an extension to stay in Minnesota long-term. Baratz would still expect teams to pursue Thielen even if it costs teams draft compensation.

“They have the ability to do right by him, and [Thielen has] far exceeded anyone’s expectations,” Baratz said of the Vikings. “They don’t have any money invested in their wide receivers, and we can figure out something to do that’s right — this week, next week, the following week, March, April. Every day that gets closer to the end of next season without a deal in place, the pendulum just continues to swing Adam’s way.”

Nevertheless, the former Division II wide receiver could be an unlikely name on the 2018 UFA market, provided no extension is agreed to — if he can replicate the quality work he did in 2016. Thielen’s five touchdown receptions were four more than he posted in his career coming into last season. On a second-round tender, Thielen would represent the Vikings’ second-highest cap figure among receivers. Jarius Wright‘s $3.138MM number tops the group presently.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Adam Thielen Pushing For Vikings Extension

The Vikings can retain restricted free agent receiver Adam Thielen via an RFA tender this offseason, but if Thielen and his agent Blake Baratz have any say, Minnesota will lock up Thielen to a long-term extension in the next few months, Baratz told Ben Goessling on 1500 ESPN’s Purple Podcast.Adam Thielen (Vertical)

[RELATED: Vikings Release Brandon Fusco]

“They have the ability to do right by him, and [Thielen has] far exceeded anyone’s expectations,” said Baratz. “They don’t have any money invested in their wide receivers, and we can figure out something to do that’s right — this week, next week, the following week, March, April.

Every day that gets closer to the end of next season without a deal in place, the pendulum just continues to swing Adam’s way. I think I’m very fair, Adam’s very realistic, and we want to do something that makes sense for the team and makes sense for Adam. Otherwise, someone’s going to be unhappy.”

Because he hasn’t accrued four NFL seasons, Thielen is bound to the Vikings for at least one more year, who have the option of tendering the 26-year-old at the first-round, second-round, or right of first refusal level. Given that he produced 69 receptions for 967 yards and five touchdowns in 2016, Thielen is likely to receive a first- or second-round offer, which would pay him in the neighborhood of $4MM or $2.8MM, respectively. Even with draft pick compensation attached, Baratz believes Thielen could attract interest in free agency.

“I would be shocked if [teams didn’t pursue him],” Baratz said. “I think the cat is kind of out of the bag. He’s had such a good year, and none of it was a fluke. When I talk to evaluators and they’re breaking down film on Adam, they legitimately understand how fast he is. They legitimately understand how good of routes he has.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings, Phil Loadholt Re-Work Contract

The Vikings have agreed to a re-worked contract with Phil Loadholt, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (on Twitter). Loadholt will earn a $2MM base in 2016 and can make up to $3.5MM through incentives. A source close to Loadholt tells Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (link) that the tackle is “betting on himself” to come back strong after having injuries in 2015, hence the one-year deal.Phil Loadholt

Loadholt missed only one game from 2009-13 but injuries have slowed him down in a major way ever since. The 343-pounder missed the final five games of the 2014 campaign because of a torn pectoral muscle and missed all of 2015 with a torn Achilles. Loadholt, 30, hasn’t played a 16-game season since 2012, but he suited up for 15 contests in 2013 and graded out as a top-five tackle by Pro Football Focus’ standards.

In other Vikings news, the team announced that they have tendered an offer to Zach Line. The team will now have first right of refusal on the fullback. Minnesota has also re-signed two ERFAs. Wide receiver Adam Thielen and tackle Carter Bykowski will be back with the club in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: English, Beckham Jr., Redskins, Vikings

Selected in the second round of the 2010 draft, linebacker Pat Angerer made an immediate impact on the Colts defense. It seemed like the Iowa product would have a successful NFL career, but injuries derailed his plans. In December, Angerer underwent microfracture surgery, a procedure seen in the NBA but rarely in the NFL.

Less than a year later, the 27-year-old is playing with the Falcons, competing for a roster spot. Even if he doesn’t ultimately make the squad, Angerer is still thrilled with the opportunity to even play football again.

It was about 50-50 but more like 20 percent chance of coming back (with) the way my knee was,” Angerer told Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was pretty beat up. To come back and to even be on the field, that’s a pretty big accomplishment and something I’m really proud of. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunity.”

The player is also optimistic about his surgically-repaired knee.

You definitely see the durability,” he said. “It feels better than it did the last two years. Today it felt good. This is the first time I’ve played football since December. Definitely rusty, got to get a little bit more strength in there, but I feel decent.”

Let’s see what else is going on around the NFC…

  • The Cowboys are taking a look at former first-rounder Larry English, a source told Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News. The linebacker was cut by the Chargers earlier this week.
  • There is no word on when rookie Odell Beckham Jr. and his injured hamstring will be allowed to practice. As a result, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano writes that the Giants are “frustrated that their first-round pick is not on the field.”
  • The first day of the Redskins‘ kicker competition was a “draw,” writes ESPN.com’s John Keim. Rookie Zach Hocker had longer kickoffs than Kai Forbath, but the two were perfect on their field goal attempts.
  • Wide receiver Adam Thielen was on the Vikings practice squad last season and may be in line for a larger role in 2014. “He works his rear end off, he runs his routes real hard, he catches the ball good,” coach Mike Zimmer told ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling. “He’s got an opportunity to make this football team.”

NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Starks

“The chemistry developing among the defensive linemen — especially starters Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea — might be the most exciting thing brewing for the Bears, especially after the unit was last in sacks in 2013,” writes Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter Adam Jahns, who lists 10 things gleaned during the Bears’ offseason.

Here’s some more news and notes from the NFC North:

  • Jahns also says rookie Brock Vereen, a fourth-round rookie from Minnesota, “has the lead” in the free safety competition.
  • “There should be no excuses going forward for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford,” according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, who explains the team has done everything in its power to accommodate its inconsistent franchise quarterback.
  • The Lions’ cornerback situation has been a continual topic of conversation this offseason, and the chatter (concern?) isn’t slowing down yet: ESPN’s Michael Rothstein says it’s a “probability” the Lions will pursue a veteran cornerback.
  • Fox Sports Detroit’s Dave Dye has a question: “It sounds funny to say, but…where would the Lions be without [Rashean] Mathis?” Dye says Mathis established himself as the Lions most reliable cornerback, but admits that’s as much of an indictment of the secondary as it is a compliment to Mathis.
  • Meanwhile, Dye thinks Cassius Vaughn could be a sleeper.
  • And finally, Rothstein and Mlive.com’s Kyle Meinke don’t think free agent Brandon Flowers is a fit in Detroit.
  • Packers new running backs coach Sam Gash thinks improved balance and body control could help James Stark avoid nagging injuries, writes Tyler Dunne in the Journal Sentinel.
  • Vikings GM Rick Spielman says the development of receiver Adam Thielen has jumped out at him during the offseason (radio interview with 100.3 FM here). A 6-2, 195-pound undrafted free agent out of Mankato State, Thielen was on the Vikings’ practice squad last season, but Star Tribune blogger Master Tesfatsion speculates Thielen might have a shot at a roster spot if he continues to impress and show chemistry with Teddy Bridgewater.