Adam Thielen Had 2 Other Teams after Him

Vikings Depth Chart -- Week 15 vs. Colts
Sep 13, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports.

The Carolina Panthers signed Adam Thielen on Sunday to a three-year deal worth $25 million. The longtime Minnesota Vikings wideout will execute the second chapter of his illustrious career in the NFC South.

Thielen spent 10 seasons in Minnesota, joining the club as a Rick Spielman undrafted find in 2013. From that point, he clawed his way up the Vikings depth chart and was a WR1 by 2016.

Adam Thielen Had 2 Other Teams after Him

The Detroit Lakes native joined The Pat McAfee Show Monday to chat about his new team and free-agent tour, revealing two other teams that had an eye on his skillset — the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos.

Adam Thielen Had 2
Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings walks the red carpet before the NFL Honors awards special at the Phoenix Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. © Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The day after Thielen joined the Panthers, he hopped on Monday’s Pat McAfee Show and divulged, “I had conversations with the Broncos, Cowboys, and a few other teams. Carolina felt like the best fit and it worked out.”

You can watch the full Thielen interview here.

The Broncos and Cowboys would’ve been exciting, to say the least, for the 32-year-old. Former Vikings second-in-command George Paton runs the show in Denver, explaining the Thielen connection. Thielen could’ve been a part of the Sean Payton era in the mountains as the Broncos attempt to fix a horrid 2022 season with quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm.

NFL: International Series-Minnesota Vikings at Cleveland Browns
Oct 29, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) celebrates after scoring on an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns during an NFL International Series game at Twickenham Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Otherwise, Thielen could’ve jaunted to an instant contender with the Cowboys — the team that has beaten the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium four consecutive times. Dallas has encountered a rough time getting over the Super Bowl hump — for like a quarter century — but partnering Thielen with CeeDee Lamb could’ve been fun. The Cowboys subsequently landed Brandin Cooks from the Houston Texans via trade after apparently missing out on the Thielen free-agent experience.

In choosing Carolina, Thielen joins a team not necessarily at the top of the NFL pecking order to contend in 2023. But he told McAfee, “I couldn’t be more excited to be a Carolina Panther.”

“People have doubted me my entire life and that’s what has gotten me to where I am,” Thielen added about this unlikely NFL story.
Nov 16, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) scores a touchdown in the first quarter against Chicago Bears cornerback Buster Skrine (24) at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

Thielen also believes he’ll eventually hoist a Lombardi trophy in Carolina, unlike any dealings with the Vikings from 2013 to 2022. He declared, “I feel like there is a real chance to win a Super Bowl.”

Before departing Minnesota, Thielen was on deck for a $19.9 million cap hit the franchise could no longer afford. If the WR2 ceiling is 716 yards and 6 touchdowns (Thielen’s 2022 numbers), a rookie on an affordable deal can reasonably replicate the statline — must’ve been the Vikings mindset.

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.

The Panthers have the first overall pick in April’s draft and are virtually guaranteed to select a quarterback — probably Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. Unless the Panthers patchover Young or Stroud in tandem with Andy Dalton, a free-agent addition from last week, Thielen will help the young passer grow while presumably wrapping up his career.

But as 2023 wears on, don’t forget he had options, including the Broncos and Cowboys.

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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