4 Teams Have Emerged in the Adam Thielen Sweepstakes

NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the latest report by Ian Rapoport connecting Adam Thielen to the Carolina Panthers.

The Minnesota Vikings released Adam Thielen last week in a move to save about $6 million against the salary cap after 10 years with his hometown team. Now, in the first 36 hours of the NFL’s “legal tampering” period, it appears that there has been some buzz regarding the veteran receiver. According to reports by Evan Massey, there are three teams that appear as the leaders in the Thielen sweepstakes. Those teams are the following:

  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • New York Giants

Later in the evening, Ian Rapoport also reported that the Carolina Panthers have interest in the veteran wide receiver, and they may actually be the front-runners right now as Thielen will give them an official visit on Wednesday.

Thielen, 32, caught 70 passes for 716 yards and 6 TDs in 2022 for the Vikings. These are numbers that remain respectable at the NFL level, but they just weren’t worth the $19.9 million cap hit that he was set to take on in 2023.

For that reason, it would make sense for Thielen to join offenses like the Chiefs or Giants who have talented pieces already in place that would be around him. Catching passes from Patrick Mahomes in an Andy Reid offense could offer the veteran receiver a chance to show what he truly has left in the tank.

3 Teams Have Emerged in the Adam Thielen Sweepstakes
Sep 15, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos (31) after a catch in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It would sting a little bit for Thielen to leave the Vikings and join the team that eliminated Minnesota during the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but surrounding himself with the up-and-coming roster over there could end up being an ideal situation as well.

The Indianapolis Colts would be a shocking team to land Thielen. They are a franchise that is in-flux right now after trading away star cornerback Stephon Gilmore while also being in need of a cornerback. They have a few promising wide receivers, such as the Thielen-like Alec Pierce, so perhaps the veteran could be a mentor to the 2022 second-round pick.

Carolina is also a surprise addition to this list after trading away D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears in order to acquire the first overall pick. Like Indy, they also find themselves without a true solution at QB, but they get to take whichever of the top four that they want. Thielen can be a consistent weapon for this new rookie QB in the short to intermediate passing game if he does join the Panthers.

Jul 29, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) speaks to the press after training camp at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past 24 hours we’ve seen a number of former Vikings find different teams to land with for the 2023 season including Patrick Peterson joining the Steelers, Dalvin Tomlinson getting a massive contract with the Browns, and Eric Kendricks heading to the Chargers. It seems safe to suggest that Thielen should have a new team relatively soon as well.

NFL free agency officially begins on Wednesday, March 15th.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.