4 Replacement Options for Adam Thielen

November 28, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

On Friday, the Minnesota Vikings bookended their week with another release of a fan-favorite player. On Monday, it was longtime linebacker Eric Kendricks who got the cut. To end the week, it was wide receiver Adam Thielen who saw his time in Minnesota come to an end. With Thielen leaving, the Vikings have to find a way to replace their starting wide receiver. Here are four replacement options for Thielen in 2023.

An In-House Player

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have a number of promising wide receivers already on their roster, which made the move to release Thielen a bit easier of a decision. K.J. Osborn has put together back-to-back strong seasons, recording 50+ receptions, 650+ receiving yards, and 5+ TDs in each of the 2021 and 2022 campaigns.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on Jalen Nailor as well, the 2022 sixth-round pick out of Michigan State. He has all the traits of an NFL slot receiver, and perhaps this move could open up the possibility for him to get more snaps with the offense in 2023.

Zay Flowers

Nov 12, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Boston College Eagles receiver Zay Flowers (4) gestures to fans after scoring during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Zay Flowers is a smaller receiver, standing at only 5’9″. However, he is compact, can run routes as well as anyone in the class because of his effortless lateral movements, and he has terrific breakaway speed that can cause trouble down the field.

Even if the Vikings kept Adam Thielen, wide receiver was a position for Vikings fans to keep an eye on in the NFL Draft. Now, it may be guaranteed that one of Minnesota’s top picks is used on a receiver. For more information on Flowers, you can find a full scouting report here.

Jordan Addison

Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a pass against the Utah Utes in the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

We’re sticking with the NFL Draft for our next Adam Thielen replacement, and this prospect is one that has been mocked to the Vikings a few times over the course of the offseason. USC wide receiver Jordan Addison is another very fluid route-runner, and he is versatile enough to play either in the slot or line up on the outside.

The only concern with going into draft night touting Jordan Addison as “the guy” at No. 23 is the fact that he might not last that long on the board. Addison certainly has a skillset that could intrigue teams in the top half of the first round, and he could even end up being WR1 in this class. For more info on Addison, we also have a scouting report on him.

Mecole Hardman

NFC North Round-Up: Free Agency Targets for All 4 Teams
Jan 29, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) warms up against the Cincinnati Bengals prior to the AFC Championship game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Approaching the wide receiver position in free agency wouldn’t be my first choice because Minnesota probably would find themselves in the exact same position as they were down the stretch of Thielen’s tenure: overpaying for a declining player.

However, if Minnesota does sign a wide receiver during the free agency period, Mecole Hardman could be a strong fit. He’s a speed demon in the slot and can be the downfield threat that the Vikings have been looking for opposite of Justin Jefferson.

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.