A Former Viking Has Been a Star With His New Team

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) reacts in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

This spring, the Minnesota Vikings made the decision to part ways with longtime starter Adam Thielen.

Thielen had been the perfect “rags to riches” story in the Vikings organization. He first joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2013, but by the time he left Minnesota he had accrued the third-most receptions and receiving TDs in Vikings history as well as the fourth-most receiving yards.

Following his release from Minnesota, Thielen signed with the Carolina Panthers, and the former Viking has proved to be a star in that organization.

A Former Viking Has Been a Star with His New Team

Former Viking
Sep 18, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) with a catch as New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) defends in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Thielen’s tenure in Carolina didn’t necessarily get off to the greatest start, though. In Week 1 for the Panthers, he caught just two passes for only 12 yards. The Panthers would lose that game to the Falcons by a score of 24-10.

However, since that game, the wide receiver has been nothing short of outstanding. Thielen has caught at least seven passes in each of Carolina’s past five games (including three games with `11 receptions) and has had at least 50 receiving yards to his name in each of them as well.

Thielen has also caught touchdowns in four of the five games. The only game where he didn’t muster a touchdown reception came against his former team, the Vikings. In that Week 4 matchup, Thielen had 7 receptions for 76 yards.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) (left) and Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) (right) after the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

On the season, Thielen is now up to 49 receptions for 509 yards and 4 TDs. The receiver ranks among the top-10 players in the league for each category, sitting tied for third in receptions (alongside his former teammate Stefon Diggs), 10th in receiving yards, and tied for fourth in TDs (next to Vikings rookie Jordan Addison).

Currently, for a 17-game season, Thielen is on pace for 138 receptions, 1442 receiving yards, and 11 TDs. Both the receptions and receiving yardage totals would be career-highs for the 33-year-old receiver while 11 TDs would be the most he’s had in a season since 2020. In fact, 138 receptions would put him fourth all-time for a single season. We still have a long way to go in the year, but this impressive start cannot be understated.

Thielen has proven that he is still plenty capable of playing football at a high level, but his success in Carolina has not translated to wins. The Panthers sit at 0-6 to begin the year and are the only winless team remaining in the NFL.

It seemed like they were on track to get off the snide against the Dolphins last weekend after jumping out to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, Miami finished the game by going on a 42-7 run and won 42-21.

Oct 15, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) attempts a pass against the Miami Dophins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

As a result of Thielen’s production and Carolina’s lack of success, he could be a trade deadline target for a contending team. The Chiefs, in particular, have seen their fair share of struggles at the wide receiver position, so perhaps they’d be a team interested in acquiring a solid possession receiver.

Of course, trading for Thielen also means acquiring the majority of his three-year contract worth $25 million. He would count for less than $1 million against the cap this year for whoever acquires him, but next year, the receiver will carry a $9.917 million cap hit that also has $11.168 million in dead cap.

That would be a big price to pay for a 34-year-old receiver, but regardless, the Panthers won’t have their first-round pick in this upcoming draft. Any capital that they can acquire at this point would be a positive. It will certainly be an interesting situation to watch with the trade deadline being two weeks from today.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. 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.