5 Likely Landing Spots if Adam Thielen Leaves Vikings

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For the next four weeks or so, Minnesota Vikings fans will prepare for the worst and hope for the best with Adam Thielen’s standing with the franchise.

The 32-year-old is scheduled to incur a cap hit of nearly $20 million against the Vikings books in 2023, and the team’s front office is determining what to do with that number.

5 Likely Landing Spots if Adam Thielen Leaves Vikings

Thielen said on ESPN’s First Take Thursday, “I want to retire a Viking. Will that happen? I don’t know. This is also a business. And I also want my opportunity to show that I can play at a high level. So, we’ll see what happens.”

Later the same day, Thielen told The Pat McAfee Show, “We’re working through some stuff because I have a big cap hit […] They’re gonna try to do something, but we’ll see.”

If Thielen departs the Vikings via trade or outright release, these are the five likeliest landing spots ranked in ascending order of probability (No. 1 = most likely).

5. Houston Texans

5 Likely Landing Spots
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Thielen sounds like a wide receiver who wants to be showcased in an offense. What better offense than the one with a lowly receiving corps?

Assuming Brandin Cooks finally shoves his way out of Houston, the Texans will employ Nico Collins, John Metchie III, Phillip Dorsett, and Amari Rodgers, among others, at WR. Do you know who those people are?

Houston could afford Thielen something the Vikings may dwindle — targets and playing time. The Texans may not win much — depending on DeMeco Ryans’ superpowers in Year 1 — but at least Thielen can prove “he’s still got it” in Houston.

4. Aaron Rodgers’ Team — Whatever It May Be

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Listen, Thielen and Rodgers are pals, and those relationships matter in sports. Rodgers is about to undergo a “darkness isolation retreat,” which he believes will afford him clarity while deciding on a Packers reunion, trade adventure, or retirement.

If Rodgers opts to return for Year No. 19, he could quarterback the Packers, Las Vegas Raiders, or New York Jets. Obviously, for Vikings fans, it would be easier to stomach Thielen in a Raiders or Jets uniform, so here’s to hoping Rodgers forces a trade or retires.

3. New England Patriots

Can the Rookie Beat the Master?
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Bill Belichick and Thielen have had dust-ups in the past, but don’t let that rule out an end-of-career stint for Thielen in New England. Belichick said about Mr. Minnesota in 2018 after a mini-confrontation between the two, “I have a lot of respect for Thielen. He’s a great player. I don’t even really remember what happened; right there around that fourth-down call. I think we’ve all moved on. I have a lot of respect for him, and the way he plays the game and what he’s accomplished.”

The Patriots also have Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agoholor hitting free agency. They need bodies to catch Mac Jones’ footballs.

2. Denver Broncos

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George Paton worked in the Vikings front office for 13 years before taking the big job as general manager in Denver. He knows Thielen; Thielen knows him.

Denver doesn’t have an urgent need at wide receiver, but it did experience a season-long injury to Tim Patrick in 2022 and might want to hedge the bet of another injury affecting him, Courtland Sutton, or Jerry Jeudy.

Thielen could help hedge that bet with a familiar face in Paton pulling strings.

1. Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio. © Jeff Lange via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

A couple of items at work here — Kevin Stefanski rules the roost in Cleveland, and he worked with Thielen for six years in Minnesota. Additionally, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah last worked in Cleveland and knows the front office there quite well.

If Adofo-Mensah needs a trade partner, his first call could be to Andrew Berry, the Browns general manager, who could pick Stefanski’s brain about onboarding Thielen in the Browns 2023 offense.

Thielen would complement Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones quite nicely.

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).

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