Vik­ings take care of Thie­len with ex­ten­sion

New deal will be worth at least $64 mil­lion

The Buffalo News - - NFL - NEWS WIRE SER­VICES

MIN­NEAPO­LIS – Af­ter post­ing num­bers that made him one of the NFL’s most pro­duc­tive wide re­ceivers the past two sea­sons, Adam Thie­len is about to be­come one of the league’s richest.

The wide re­ceiver has agreed with the Vik­ings on a four-year con­tract ex­ten­sion worth at least $64 mil­lion, his agency an­nounced on Fri­day. Thie­len’s new deal, which could be worth up to $73 mil­lion, keeps the wide re­ceiver un­der con­tract through the 2024 sea­son while re­solv­ing ques­tions about his im­me­di­ate fu­ture be­fore the Vik­ings be­gin off­sea­son work­outs on Mon­day.

The Vik­ings signed Thie­len to a four-year ex­ten­sion in March 2017, af­ter he caught 69 passes for 967 yards while head­ing into restricted free agency. Thie­len quickly out­played the four-year deal, how­ever, boost­ing its value by $4.1 mil­lion in its first two years by trig­ger­ing in­cen­tives and base salary es­ca­la­tors af­ter a pair of Pro Bowl sea­sons.

He fin­ished fourth in the NFL with 113 catches last sea­son, post­ing 1,373 yards and ty­ing Char­lie Hen­ni­gan’s NFL record by start­ing the sea­son with eight con­sec­u­tive 100-yard games.

Thie­len’s un­likely rise to star­dom – by way of a $500 schol­ar­ship to Min­nesota State and a rookie camp try­out with the Vik­ings – has be­come a well-worn tale by now, mak­ing him per­haps the state’s most pop­u­lar ath­lete in the process.

Though Thie­len’s ex­ist­ing deal – which made him the NFL’s 30thhigh­est paid re­ceiver, in terms of av­er­age an­nual value – ran through the 2020 sea­son, it had be­come ob­vi­ous the re­ceiver was due for a raise. The Vik­ings took care of the 28-year-old, with a deal that was also ex­pected to lower Thie­len’s salary cap fig­ure (which had been $8.1 mil­lion) for the 2019 sea­son and pro­vide the team some much-needed breath­ing room.

Ho­gan lands with Pan­thers

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C. – Wide re­ceiver Chris Ho­gan was given the nick­name “7-eleven” at Miami Dol­phins train­ing camp in 2012 by his team­mate at the time, run­ning back Reggie Bush.

Why “7-eleven”? Be­cause he was al­ways open.

Signed Fri­day by Carolina to a one-year deal, Ho­gan wants to show he’s “open” in a dif­fer­ent way, too – open to any type of re­ceiv­ing po­si­tion of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Norv Turner has in mind, that is.

“(D.J. Moore, Chris­tian McCaf­frey and Cam New­ton), those three guys are a bunch of play­mak­ers,” Ho­gan said. “I think this team has a lot of weapons on the field at all times ... Any new sys­tem, new team that I come into, my ex­pec­ta­tions for my­self are re­ally just to come in, take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity that I have been given and any op­por­tu­ni­ties I’m given on the field, work as hard as I can.”

Prior to his last three years in New Eng­land, Ho­gan played three sea­sons for Buf­falo (2013-15), where he had 87 catches for 959 yards and six touch­downs. He was used in a va­ri­ety of re­ceiv­ing po­si­tions, and played spe­cial teams.

This spring was Ho­gan’s first time as an un­re­stricted free agent, and he ad­mit­ted the ex­pe­ri­ence at times was a bit per­plex­ing.

“We didn’t think it was go­ing to last as long as it did,” he said, laugh­ing. “But I en­joyed my fam­ily time, and time spent with the kids has al­ways been nice.

“When I had the op­por­tu­nity to come down here and sign with Carolina, I was just re­ally ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity.”

In Carolina, Ho­gan will likely get most of his snaps as an out­side re­ceiver, com­ple­ment­ing the versatility and ro­ta­tion of sec­ond-year re­ceiver Moore and third-year re­ceiver Curtis Sa­muel, and get­ting looks as a mid­dle-to-deep range threat.

Ho­gan av­er­aged 15.3 yards per catch dur­ing his years in New Eng­land and tied with De­sean Jack­son in 2016 for the league lead in yards per catch with 17.9.

Pack­ers great Gregg dies

Green Bay Pack­ers great For­rest Gregg died on Fri­day at the age of 85, the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame an­nounced.

Gregg, a fa­vorite of leg­endary Pack­ers coach Vince Lom­bardi, was a stand­out of­fen­sive tackle dur­ing Green Bay’s dy­nasty in the 1960s. He was in­ducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

De­spite be­ing un­der­sized, Gregg played in 188 con­sec­u­tive games be­tween 1956 and 1971, win­ning five cham­pi­onships with the Pack­ers along the way.

He spent his final sea­son in Dal­las, win­ning his sixth ti­tle in Su­per Bowl VI.

Gregg went into coach­ing af­ter his play­ing days ended, guid­ing the Cleve­land Browns, Cincin­nati Ben­gals and Pack­ers over 11 sea­sons.

Getty Im­ages

Min­nesota’s Adam Thie­len has turned into one of the top re­ceivers in the NFL. He had 113 catches in 2018.

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