Beloved Former Viking Oddly in Trade Rumor Mill

Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen scores a touchdown against Lions safety Tracy Walker III during the second half of the Lions' 42-24 win on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, at Ford Field. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

He just got there.

That won’t stop the NFL’s trade rumor mill regarding Adam Thielen and the Carolina Panthers, though.

Beloved Former Viking Oddly in Trade Rumor Mill

Thirty-two teams have three days to decide if players will be shipped, received, or left alone. The trade deadline hits on Halloween and is expected to bustle as bottom-feeding teams softly prepare for Caleb Williams and Drake Maye, two quarterbacks on tap for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Of course, Thielen has played all of six games for the Panthers, so a trade this soon appears odd on the surface, but that doesn’t prevent the relentless trade rumor mill from suggesting the 33-year-old could be sent to a contender.

Beloved Former Viking Oddly
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Thielen ranks 14th in receiving yards (509) and 10th in receiving touchdowns (4) heading into Week 8 and has also played one fewer game than most receivers because of Carolina’s early bye. In his first season away from the Minnesota Vikings, the folkloric Minnesota figure is on pace for 139 receptions, 1,442 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

Not bad.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports.

Thielen joined Carolina on a three-year, $25 million deal in March, so it’s not like he’s a rental in the NFC South scheduled to hit free agency in 4.5 months. However, he may be “too good” for the struggling Panthers, and his trade value checks in at its highest foreseeable mark, probably for the rest of his career.

In theory, per the rumor mill, a contending team — the Panthers are no longer contending — could acquire Thielen for somewhat cheap and allow him to pursue some ring hardware. Thielen turns 34 next August, and most wide receivers decline at that age (and even before it).

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

This week, SI.com envisioned a Thielen reunion with Stefon Diggs in Buffalo, particularly because most folks didn’t believe Thielen would be this productive as a WR1 with the Panthers. Mike Fisher explained, “Maybe the Panthers want to keep him because he’s a helper in the development of prized rookie QB Bryce Young’s favorite target early on. And maybe the Bills do not want to overreach here because Thielen is under contract through the end of next season and is already 33 years old. But if the Bills are looking for a moderate ‘go-for-it’ swap?”

Thielen and Diggs spent five seasons together in Minnesota.

“Thielen was thought to have been out of gas in Minnesota, where once upon a time he teamed with Diggs as one of the NFL’s top wideout combos. But this year, he’s got 49 catches for 509 yards and four touchdowns through six games. Is there some magic to be recaptured with Thielen and Diggs? Depending on the price, it is not difficult to see the match,” Fisher added about Thielen-to-Bills.

Thielen Forecasted
Adam Thielen answered questions on his mentality moving to a new state and playing with a new team. Thielen left the Vikings after the 2022 season, latching onto the Carolina Panthers for 3 years and $25 million.

USA Today also forayed into the Thielen rumor mill, hinting the Baltimore Ravens should pick up the phone. Cory Woodroof wrote before Week 7, “If you’re Baltimore, you call Carolina and offer, say, a young receiver in Rashod Bateman and a low-round pick for Thielen. The Panthers get a young receiver who could use a change of scenery to pair with Young, and Thielen gets to go to a contender that could use his veteran savvy.”

The Kansas City Chiefs, too, have been whispered as a Thielen landing spot.

Ultimately, Thielen will likely stay put in Carolina — he just got there — as Bryce Young needs all the help he can get to mature into a prolific passer. But a handful of folks believe Thielen would look better in playoff clothing playing meaningful January football.

The Vikings defeated Thielen’s Panthers in Week 4 by a score of 21-13.


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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