Adam Thielen, a pending free agent, says he proved himself in a breakout season and hopes the Vikings respond in kind.
Because he is a restricted free agent, the Vikings have an advantage even if another team wanted to sign Thielen to an offer sheet. They can decide to place a higher tender on the once-undrafted receiver, which would ward off teams uneasy about giving up a first- or second-round pick for him.
It’s unlikely he will go anywhere this offseason, but the Vikings’ leading receiver hopes to take a step toward staying in Minnesota for the long haul — if an extension offer is “in our ballpark,” Thielen said. So far Thielen’s side hasn’t been given an indication of the Vikings’ plans with less than three weeks before free agency officially opens.
“Being able to put the film out there and prove I can be a starter in this league, it’s put me in a good situation,” Thielen said Friday from the Vikings’ WinterFest in Prior Lake. “I feel I’ve proven it. Hopefully I can stay here long-term and be respected with the way they handle me.”
Thielen, who turns 27 in August, could end up betting on himself next season if a potential extension isn’t offered or agreed upon. So far his offseason has consisted of workouts four times a week at his Lakeville gym and early nights, so he can wake up at least once to help his wife, Caitlin, with their 4-month-old son, Asher.
The Detroit Lakes native hopes to be the next career Viking.
“There’s something special about that,” Thielen said. “It’d be great to have a send-off someday like [11-year veteran linebacker Chad] Greenway did. There’s something special about that. It doesn’t happen very often these days.”
‘He’ll be straight’
Charles Johnson has been through a torn ACL, which is just part of Teddy Bridgewater’s severe knee injuries, and he called it “crazy. It hurts. It’s terrible.”
But he’s not questioning the recovery of Bridgewater, who’s more than six months removed from dislocating his knee and tearing multiple ligaments.
“From what I hear, he’s just grinding,” Johnson said. “I don’t know a timeline, because that’s his body, but we’ll see. … I seen him running and doing all types of drills and stuff like that. He’ll be straight.”
Counting the days
Captain Munnerlyn said he’s been counting the days until free agency, anxious to know where his next step will take him. Munnerlyn, who turns 29 in April, admitted money could be a sticking point in negotiations to keep him in Minnesota.
“Hopefully they value my position, value my talent and bring me back,” Munnerlyn said. “I’m an older guy, I want to win. I definitely want to win. In Minnesota, I definitely feel like we have a chance to win.”
Line’s hip fixed
Zach Line expects to “hit the ground running” in training by next week after undergoing hip surgery last month. Line, the fullback and pending free agent, said his expecting wife, McKenzie, urged him to stay on crutches even though he said he can walk fine without them.
“She’s like ‘you’ve got to stay on those crutches, you can’t prolong this,’ ” Line said. “She’s been carrying the load.”
Cornerback to visit
The Vikings are expected to host free agent slot cornerback K’Waun Williams for a visit on Tuesday, according to a league source.
Williams, 25, was scheduled to visit the Lions, Jets and Dolphins this week and is expected to travel to Minnesota next week before putting pen to paper. The ex-Browns starter didn’t play last season after ankle surgery.