The Thielen Path Gets Another Traveller as Vikings Add a Local Receiver

Minnesota State WR
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Thielen path has found a new traveller.

Yesterday, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson confirmed that WR Garett Maag has signed a deal with the Minnesota Vikings. The Wolfson tweet was in response to the initial word form Tanner Phifer, who first noted the news on Twitter.

The Thielen Path and Garett Maag

Seeing as how Maag is from Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, plenty of Vikings fans will instinctively make the connection to Thielen. The veteran is from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. It took some time (alongside plenty of hard work, effort, and competition), but Thielen eventually distinguished himself as being among the team’s best receivers and, indeed, the league more broadly.

Vikings Who Left
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) celebrates his touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

By the time he was cut, Adam Thielen had put up some tremendous numbers over his nine seasons catching footballs for Minnesota. His 534 catches are 3rd in team history, his 6682 receiving yards are 4th in team history, and his 55 TDs come in at 3rd.

Not bad for a local kid who was scraping and clawing his way onto the team.

Garett Maag will hope for a similar progression in his NFL career. During his college years, Maag played for North Dakota. He stands at a towering 6’4″, possessing the kind of length that coaches covet for their receivers. Can’t teach size, folks.

The competition at receiver is pretty ferocious. Justin Jefferson isn’t letting go of his WR1 spot anytime soon and Jordan Addison is a recent 1st-round addition. K.J. Osborn is still in town and there’s reason to believe Jalen Nailor can be a wonderful WR4. Otherwise, there’s just eight more receivers Maag will need to overcome.

That’s right: Maag is now the 13th WR on the depth chart.

Jalen Nailor Stock Continues to Rise
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) celebrates after making a stop against the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

In all likelihood, the receiver is going to need to prove to the coaching staff that he’s a special teams standout. If he shows himself capable of incredible blocking and tackling, Garett Maag could justify a spot as the WR5 or WR6. If he can excel as a returner, he’ll get a humongous boost to his chance of making the final roster.

And, of course, he’ll want to show that he has the potential to develop into a contributor on offense. Expecting him to make plays in 2023 is unrealistic, but showing potential isn’t out of the question. The team must have seen something in him. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have filled the roster spot left behind by Ben Ellefson’s retirement with the young WR.

Currently, the Vikings are conducting OTAs. Next up will be mandatory mini camp and training camp. The more time passes, the more the offseason competition will intensify. Garett Maag will have his shot to prove he belongs.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.