Former Viking Thielen Might Head to NFC South
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings had to save some cap space, and Adam Thielen had to pack his bags, a bummer for many Vikings fans. He had to leave just a few days after GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah released linebacker Eric Kendricks. Both were longtime pillars of the organization.

Kendricks has agreed to join the Los Angeles Chargers, which means the California native is about to go home. He agreed to a two-year deal for $13.25 million and will now play for head coach Brandon Staley, a defensive-minded head coach like Mike Zimmer in his tenure in Minnesota.

Adam Thielen might be close to joining a new team, too.

Former Viking Thielen Might Head to NFC South

Former Viking Thielen Might Head to NFC South Team
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Thielen, born and raised in Minnesota as a Vikings fan, played for his childhood team for a decade after he went undrafted in 2013. Famously, Thielen paid for attending the regional combine and later landed a rookie tryout. It is rare for players to make a team with that history. He is now looking for a new team for the first time in his career.

Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday: “This is interesting: The Panthers are expected to host former Vikings WR Adam Thielen on a visit tomorrow. The veteran has plenty left, and Carolina will get the first look.”

It is debatable how much he still has left in the tank as a soon-to-be 34-year-old wideout. He clearly lost a step in 2022 but still produced 716 yards on 70 receptions and 6 touchdowns.

Do the Vikings Have
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Carolina Panthers would be an interesting choice for the veteran. Usually, players like Thielen, who are close to the end of their careers, are looking to join contending teams. Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs come to mind, just like the Buffalo Bills with former teammate Stefon Diggs. The Panthers missed the playoffs every year in the last five seasons, never winning more than seven games. Last season, Carolina finished the year with a 7-10 record in probably the worst division in the league.

However, the Panthers traded up with the Bears and secured the top draft choice in April’s draft, which will most likely be a quarterback. That selection, whether Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, or Anthony Richardson, needs dependable receivers he can trust. Thielen might not be the explosive athlete we used to know, but he is a savvy veteran who will catch the passes thrown in his direction and run the right routes. With all his experience, he can also help the QB prepare mentally.

Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) drops back to throw the ball against Georgia Bulldogs in the third quarter during the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Osu22uga Kwr 50

The road to snaps is an easy one in Carolina. They have traded D.J. Moore, their top wideout, in the package with the Bears. Laviska Shenault, Terrace Marshall, and Preston Smith are hardly an NFL receiving corps. The Panthers are in a decent cap space position to pay Thielen the most money on the market.

Minnesota has not attempted to replace Thielen so far. There are some excellent options available, but they cost a lot of money, money 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