One Former Viking’s Plan Just Didn’t Work Out

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The large contract and workload made sense, but nothing else really did.

Adam Thielen joined the Carolina Panthers in March, agreeing to a three-year, $25 million deal after the Minnesota Vikings said sayonara. The beloved Viking was on deck for a $20 million cap hit in Minnesota, which the Vikings weren’t interested in paying.

One Former Viking’s Plan Just Didn’t Work Out

So, Thielen trekked to North Carolina, where he thought he could win a Super Bowl. But after Week 13 in the NFL, no such outcome is possible, as the Panthers were eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday following a 21-18 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Plan Just
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From here on out, Carolina will play for pride and doesn’t even have its 1st-Round draft pick in April. The Chicago Bears will choose for the Panthers — probably first overall — fruit of the trade that netted Bryce Young. Only Chicago will benefit in the 1st Round if the Panthers continue to lose.

“Honestly, I wasn’t really planning on going to the Panthers. I went on a visit there just to see, just to hear them out. Because I wanted to go somewhere where I had an opportunity to win a Super Bowl. And when I went there, I sat down with Coach Frank Reich, I sat down with the GM, and sat down with all of the coaching staff, and I felt like Carolina was the place to do that,” Thielen told reporters in March.

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The Panthers fired Reich on Monday, becoming the first head coach in NFL history to be fired in back-to-back seasons.

Thielen also mentioned seven months ago, “I feel like there is a real chance to win a Super Bowl, and that gets me so excited.”

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Individually, the Minnesota State alumnus has performed quite well. He’s on pace for about 1,100 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns, which, if accomplished, would mark his first 1,000-yard season since 2018. It’s been five years.

Yet, the team around him flatly isn’t competent. The aforementioned Young will likely blossom before too long — hopefully, for their sake, anyway — but the defense, for example, ranked 29th leaguewide per DVOA heading into Week 13.

Nothing has gone right for Thielen in Carolina unless the goal was to make mucho dinero and stack statistics.

End of an Era for Adam
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“That was a big factor in the decision as well. I didn’t want to be a one-year kind of gap filler. You know, come in, thanks for your service, see you later. I want to be a part of something special. I want to be a part of building something,” Thielen concluded in March.

We shall see if the Panthers suddenly turn it around in 2024, Thielen’s age-34 season.


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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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