Adam Thielen Finds New Home

5 Vikings Have Not Met
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) celebrates the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Not many players had an impact on the Minnesota Vikings like Adam Thielen. He cheered for the team in childhood, idolizing Randy Moss and Cris Carter. In his adult life, Thielen broke some of the records held by the two legends. He lived his dream in Minnesota, playing for the Vikings from 2013 to 2022.

Thielen ranks third in receptions and receiving touchdowns and fourth in receiving yards in Vikings franchise history. He appeared in more games for the organization than players like Adrian Peterson, Jake Reed, or Tommy Kramer. The Vikings released him because he was getting too expensive in relation to his performance, but he has the chance to prove them wrong in his next chapter.

Adam Thielen Finds New Home

Adam Thielen Finds
Dec 10, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) can’t make the catch in the end zone as Carolina Panthers cornerback Kevon Seymour (27) defends in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Thielen’s release hurt many fans, maybe even Thielen himself. Only for the second time in his professional career, the wideout was looking for a new team. The first time was after he went undrafted and secured a roster spot in Minnesota through a rookie tryout.

The second team in his career will be the Carolina Panthers. Pat McAfee broke the news on Twitter, and Thielen simultaneously uploaded a story on Instagram.

He will stay in the NFC and play twice a season against the Vikings’ foes, the New Orleans Saints. Another opponent of the Panthers in 2023 is Thielen’s old team, the Minnesota Vikings. The wideout will get the chance to have his version of a revenge game when he plays the new-looking Vikings secondary, including cornerback signing Byron Murphy.

Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Thielen has a clear path to a significant role in Carolina, as the wide receiver room is a disaster. The Panthers traded away their top guy, D.J. Moore, to the Bears to get the first overall selection in the upcoming draft. Preston Smith, Terrace Marshall, and Laviska Shenault are the best receivers on the team, and that hardly sounds like an NFL group.

It’s quite interesting that Thielen chose the Panthers, a team unlikely to compete in 2023. Usually, players in a similar career stage try to join a team like the Chiefs or the Eagles to win a championship.

Thielen will be a reliable target for the first overall pick, most likely a quarterback. From that perspective, Thielen’s signing makes a lot of sense. He can help the rookie learn. In addition to that, he can teach young receivers like Marshall, who showed some flashes last year. He is a college teammate of Justin Jefferson. His next quarterback will likely be one of C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson.

We're One Month Away from Purple Showtime
Jul 29, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) speaks to the press after training camp at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

How much he has left in the tank as a soon-to-be 33-year-old wideout is debatable. He clearly lost a step in 2022 but still produced 716 yards on 70 receptions and 6 touchdowns. His last 1,000-yard season came in 2018. However, he recorded 30 touchdowns throughout the last three seasons.

Thielen is not the first former Viking to find a new team in the free agency period. Linebacker Eric Kendricks joins Justin Herbert with the Chargers, Dalvin Tomlinson signed a huge deal with the Browns, and Patrick Peterson is heading to Pittsburgh.

Minnesota has not attempted to replace Thielen so far, but some excellent options are still available. They cost a lot of money — funds the Vikings lack. The cheapest alternative is K.J. Osborn, who could step up and take the WR2 role. In addition, the Vikings signed tight end Josh Oliver, which could allow T.J. Hockenson to play an even more significant in the passing game, virtually as the second receiver.

Thielen played in 135 games for the Vikings, including 101 starts. He caught 534 passes for 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns. He ranks fourth in yards and third in touchdowns and receptions in franchise history — and he did all that for his childhood team.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt