Home News Here’s why Vikings let Adam Thielen walk in free agency

Here’s why Vikings let Adam Thielen walk in free agency

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The Vikings parted ways with wideout Adam Thielen after nearly a decade, and their decision to move on works in both sides’ interests.

Hometown heroes don’t come around often, and wide receiver Adam Thielen will be sorely missed by the Minnesota Vikings. In a heartbreaking signing for Vikings fans, Thielen joined the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, agreeing to a three-year, $25 million deal that tops what Minnesota was offering him.

Earlier this offseason, Minnesota asked the long-time wideout to take a pay cut. Thielen politely declined.

In 2023, Thielen was set to make roughly $12 million in base salary and carry a $20 million cap hit. The 32-year-old’s production has declined in recent years, and the team just couldn’t justify those numbers given its dire salary cap situation (they’re currently several million over the cap according to Spotrac).

Thielen wanted to get paid more, and the Vikings couldn’t afford him. It’s a tale as old as the league itself.

As one of the most consistent veteran receivers on the market, Thielen found a home in Carolina and stands to make much more than if he had taken a pay cut in Minnesota.

Vikings didn’t want to pay Adam Thielen, but the Panthers did

Releasing Thielen saved the team $6.4 million, and the Vikings can put that money toward an impending Justin Jefferson extension.

Considering Thielen’s advanced age, he got himself a fairly sizable payday as he joins a rebuilding franchise through 2025; he’s the most experienced wide receiver on the Panthers right now, and Carolina likely isn’t done adding pieces in free agency.

In the wake of trading D.J. Moore, the Panthers added a dose of leadership to their pass-catching corps with Thielen assuming the de facto No. 1 receiver role. Playing behind Justin Jefferson in Minnesota, Thielen was viewed as a middling outside target, but he now gets his chance in the spotlight to prove he has not yet eclipsed his Pro Bowl form from five and six years ago.

Thielen’s story with the Vikings was an emotional and heartfelt one: the born-and-bred Minnesotan attended a Division II college in his home state (Minnesota State) on a $500 scholarship, went undrafted, got cut his first year at Vikings training camp, and finally made the team in next season’s tryouts.

Yet it was a story that had to come to an end. With the Vikings in his rear view mirror, Thielen made the difficult but financially sound choice to leave his beloved state and revitalize his career on a young and rebuilding team.