Vikings Legend Didn’t Want to Leave

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If Adam Thielen personally scripted the future, he’d still play for the Minnesota Vikings, the team that discovered him via undrafted free agency 10 years ago.

The Vikings released Thielen in March, and he signed with the Carolina Panthers for three years and $25 million.

Vikings Legend Didn’t Want to Leave

Thielen appeared on the Daily Delivery podcast this week and explained his Vikings exodus, “I think there are like two sides of it. It was a bummer. I didn’t want to leave Minnesota. I wanted to end my career there. Obviously, that would be the perfect fairy-tale way to do it, right? But that’s not reality.”

Want to
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Per 2023 cap hit, Thielen was scheduled to incur about $20 million against the Vikings books, a number evidently too large for the budget. Instead, Minnesota pivoted to K.J. Osborn for several weeks as the potential Thielen replacement at WR2 and then drafted rookie Jordan Addison of USC from Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Thielen continued, “I’m so thankful for that organization, Kwesi and Kevin and the staff. The way they handled this throughout the process was first-class.”

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“You know, it’s really hard to explain the entire situation. I don’t think there was ever a point where I was unhappy with what I was doing,” the Detroit Lakes native mentioned about his contract talks in February and March with Minnestoa’s front office.

Thielen is the Vikings third-leading receiver in catches (534), third in receiving touchdowns (55), and fourth in receiving yards (6,682) throughout franchise history. He rose to power late in the 2015 season and clawed his way up Minnesota’s depth chart to WR1 by 2016. Thielen earned instant chemistry with then-QB1 Sam Bradford and took off as a household name in Minnesota and later the nation.

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“It was just pretty clear that they had a different vision for me than maybe I had for a way that I could help the team win games. There wasn’t a wrong thing. There wasn’t disrespect on either side. I think it was just time for both sides to move on,” Thielen concluded.

The NFL is an unpredictable and bendy place, so fans shouldn’t rule out some kind of Vikings reunion for Thielen in Minnesota down the road. For now, he’ll help first-overall-pick-in-the-draft quarterback Bryce Young get off the ground in Carolina.

Minnesota will presumably host a WR2 battle between Addison and Osborn this summer. The Vikings play at Thielen’s Panthers this season, too. The date will be released on May 11th.

And there won’t be any bad blood — because Thielen didn’t want to leave Minnesota in the first place.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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