Though Vikings receiver Adam Thielen — who leads the league with 93 receptions, ranks second with 1,138 receiving yards and is tied for fifth with eighth touchdowns — is playing on a contract that has him ranked 49th at his position, in terms of average annual value, he is in line to give himself another raise.
Thielen, who already triggered a $600,000 bonus by surpassing 80 catches for the season, can earn another $500,000 if he is selected to his second Pro Bowl next month. He bumped his 2018 salary from $2.85 to $3.85 million by surpassing 90 catches last year, and has already boosted his 2019 salary from $3.85 to $5.85 million by triggering a pair of $1 million salary escalators for 90-catch seasons in 2017 and 2018, and could nudge his 2020 salary from $5.35 to $8.35 million if he adds another 90-catch season next year.
In total, Thielen has already added $3.6 million in incentives and escalators to the four-year, $19.246 million contract he signed before the 2017 season, with another $500,000 likely coming in the form of a Pro Bowl pick next month and another $4.1 million available to him in 2019 if he has another 90-catch Pro Bowl season.
It’s entirely possible, of course, that Thielen is playing his final season on his current deal, given how underpaid he is in relation to the rest of the receiver market. There’s nothing forcing the Vikings to redo the 28-year-old’s deal before it expires in 2020, but the team has made a habit of taking care of productive players who are also good citizens in the locker room and community, and Thielen — one of the team’s most popular players — certainly fits that bill. The Vikings have some big decisions to make, as Chip Scoggins outlined in his column today, but Thielen figures to put himself in that conversation. He’s already done plenty to sweeten the modest deal he signed as a restricted free agent last year.
Here is a look at the incentives and escalators various Vikings can earn with their performance in the season’s final month:
–If Stefon Diggs, who has 79 catches for 790 yards this season, eclipses 100 catches or 1,375 yards this season, he can add $666,666 to his 2021 base salary, $750K to his 2022 base and $800K to his 2023 base by triggering an escalator clause in his contract.
–Guard Tom Compton, who’s making $850,000 this season, could be on track to boost his compensation through a playing-time bonus at the end of the season. Compton would earn an extra $100,000 if he’s on the field for 35 percent or more of the Vikings’ offensive plays, $150,000 if he plays 50 percent of the time and $250,000 if he plays 65 percent of the offensive snaps.
–And while quarterback Kirk Cousins can add to his $22.5 million base salary for the 2018 season through incentives, the Vikings would have to win the Super Bowl for any of them to kick in. Cousins would make $500,000 for a championship, $1 million if the Vikings finish in the top 5 in scoring offense and win the Super Bowl, $1.5 million if the Vikings are in the top 3 in scoring offense and win the Super Bowl, and $2 million if the Vikings win the Super Bowl, finish with a top-8 offense and Cousins is named MVP of the game. All of those incentives are also predicated on Cousins being on the field for 75 percent of the team’s offensive plays, so he’d of course need to stay healthy for any of them to kick in.