5 Possible Landing Spots for Adam Thielen

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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Some Minnesota Vikings fans were flabbergasted; others saw it coming from 19,900,000 miles away.

The franchise released wide receiver Adam Thielen on Friday after 10 storybook seasons in his home state. During his run, Thielen tabulated the third-most receptions in Vikings history, along with the third-most receiving touchdowns, and he ranked fourth in receiving yards.

5 Possible Landing Spots for Adam Thielen

Not bad for an undrafted free agent who was about to sell dental equipment if his NFL pipe dream didn’t pan out. But now Thielen will hit the open market, so keep an eye on these five teams amid his free agency. They’re ranked in ascending order of likelihood.

5. Denver Broncos

Spots for Adam
Jun 6, 2022; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during OTA workouts at the UC Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Indeed, Thielen could ride with Russell Wilson in Denver, especially if Sean Payton and Co. move on from Courtland Sutton or Jerry Jeudy. The connection? Broncos general manager George Paton, Thielen’s coworker from 2013 to 2020.

Denver doesn’t have an urgent need at wide receiver, but it did experience a season-long injury to Tim Patrick in 2022. Thielen could hedge the bet against another injury to Patrick or the oft-injured K.J. Hamler.

This also means Thielen would play against the Vikings in Colorado next season.

4. Cleveland Browns

Nov 28, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski looks down the field during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The guy in the picture, Kevin Stefanski, the Browns head coach, was coworkers with Thielen for seven years. The Browns also don’t possess a totally dazzling wide receiving corps. It could use a dependable upgrade, and Thielen is about as surehanded as they come.

The Browns have a cap-space problem — worse than the Vikings at the moment if that can be believed — because of Deshaun Watson’s naughty cap hit. But Thielen won’t be incredibly expensive and could nicely complement Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

3. New York Jets

Feb 4, 2023; Pebble Beach, California, USA; Aaron Rodgers reacts leaving the second green during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Mandatory Credit: Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s weird to process, but Aaron Rodgers as the next QB1 of the New York Jets feels like a foregone conclusion. And guess what — Rodgers and Thielen are buddies.

Like the Browns, the Jets have oodles of cap issues to navigate, particularly if they trade for Rodgers. Yet, joining Rodgers and Tyler Conklin in New York seems feasible. New York is pulling out all the stops to land Rodgers. Thielen could be deal sweetener once the trade with Green Bay finally culminates.

Thielen would join a Jets WR room that includes 2022 Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, and Corey Davis. Rodgers could make that work + Thielen, with an apt running back in Breece Hall at his side.

2. Buffalo Bills

2022 Vikings Draft Class
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) straight arms Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) after making a catch during second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Remember the Diggs-Thielen partnership? The Bills could make it happen again with a pen stroke.

Vikings fans should monitor Super Bowl-contending teams in Thielen’s job search, and Buffalo has been everybody’s Super Bowl darling for about the last three years. Of course, the Bills always flop in the postseason, but that’s neither here nor there.

Josh Allen is extraordinary, Diggs works there, Dalvin Cook’s little brother is the running back, and Thielen could nestle in as the Bills WR3 behind Diggs and Gabe Davis.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Feb 13, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (left) and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pose with Vince Lombardi and most valuable player trophies during the Super Bowl 57 Winning Team Head Coach and MVP press conference at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If one wants to prove “a lot left in the tank” is the real deal, wouldn’t the best option be to join the best quarterback in football? The team that could soon be without JuJu Smith-Schuster and needs WR bodies?

That’s the Chiefs, they’re the champions, Patrick Mahomes is already a Hall of Famer, and Thielen can prove everybody wrong by showing his skillset in a guaranteed-to-be-good Chiefs offense.

These are the Chiefs decent WRs under contract as of now: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, and Kadarius Toney. Toss a Thielen in there for a Super Bowl run. He’d even return to the scene of his past life, playing the Vikings when the Chiefs play at U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time ever next season.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.