Thielen agreed Friday to a four-year, $64 million extension with the Vikings, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Thielen played the past two seasons under a four-year, $19.25 million contract, making him one of the best bargains in the NFL. The new deal puts him closer to other top wide receivers, including teammate Stefon Diggs (five years, $72 million). The Vikings had no trouble finding work for their star pass catchers in 2018, with both Diggs and Thielen finishing in the top 10 for targets while accounting for 49.8 percent of the team total. Thielen's new contract reportedly could be worth as much as $73 million if he reaches all the incentives. Minnesota clearly isn't too worried about the 28-year-old's slow finish to 2018.
Thielen's agent is cautiously optimistic the Vikings will reward his client with a new contract this offseason, Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com reports. Thielen has two seasons remaining on a four-year, $19.25 million contract, with base salaries of $5.85 million in 2019 and $5.35 million in 2020, per OverTheCap.com. He's arguably the best value in the league for a player not on a rookie contract -- a result of being a late bloomer who signed his deal after a 967-yard breakout campaign in 2016. Thielen took another leap in 2017 with 1,276 receiving yards, followed by 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. He can easily make the case he's more valuable than teammate Stefon Diggs, who signed a five-year, $72 million extension in July. Of course, the issue is leverage in negotiations rather than on-field value, especially with Thielen's agent suggesting the 28-year-old isn't planning on a holdout. An extension would make sense for all parties, but it's hard to imagine any resolution in which Thielen approaches his open-market value.
Thielen snagged three of four targets for 38 yards during Sunday's loss to Chicago. He also rushed once for minus-1 yard. No Vikings receiver was particularly productive on a day quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for a season-low 132 passing yards against the league's seventh-ranked pass defense. Thielen was no exception, though he arguably had one of the toughest matchups he could ask for going against 2018 first-team All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller. With that said, it was a fitting end to a season that saw Thielen average 115.6 receiving yards per game through the first half of the season but only 56 per game over the second half. He remains under contract at a fantastic value for Minnesota through the next two seasons and, despite his second-half slump, should rank as one of the most coveted receivers in fantasy in advance of the 2019 campaign.
Thielen caught five of six targets for 80 yards and added a three-yard carry in Sunday's 27-9 win over Detroit. Thielen bounced back nicely from last week's 19-yard effort, posting his highest receiving yardage total since Week 12 and second highest since Week 8. He's slowed down dramatically after a historically hot start to the season, but Thielen should remain involved against the Bears in Week 17 with his Vikings trying to clinch a playoff spot.
Thielen hauled in both of his targets for 19 yards in Sunday's 41-17 win over Miami. After eclipsing 100 receiving yards in eight consecutive games to start the season, Thielen has done so only once over the past six, coming up short of 30 yards three times. Despite his recent decline in production, it will be tough to take Thielen out of the lineup against the Lions in Week 16, considering his robust totals of 105 catches for 1,255 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/15||@Green Bay Packers||26||24.75|
|5||10/06||@New York Giants||10||20.75|
|9||11/03||@Kansas City Chiefs||21||22.67|
|15||12/16||@Los Angeles Chargers||7||18.44|
|16||12/24||Green Bay Packers||26||24.75|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||129||91||1205||6||59||13.24||155|