The Minnesota Vikings released receiver Adam Thielen on Friday, ending a historic tenure for the Minnesotan who captured the hearts of fans across the region.
Born in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and played collegiately at Minnesota State Mankato, Thielen signed with the team in 2013 after serving as a tryout player in rookie minicamp. At the end of the 2022 season, he had more career catches (534) than any player in team history except Cris Carter and Randy Moss, both members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Adam’s story is one that many know and admire and is an incredible example of what the relentless pursuit of a goal can achieve,” coach Kevin O’Connell said in a statement. “For over a decade, Adam has honed his craft to become one of the most recognizable wide receivers in the NFL. At the same time, he has poured so much time into his home state, which has made it all the more special for him. . to earn our 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination. I personally relied on Adam for his work ethic, leadership and advice numerous times to help get our team to where we wanted it to be last season.”
But as Thielen approached his 33rd birthday, he began to lose ground to younger players in the Vikings’ offense. In the final five games of last season, he ranked fourth among back targets Justin Jefferson, TJ Hockenson and KJ Osborn.
That dynamic, along with a contract that imposed a $19.97 million cap number for 2023, led to Friday’s move. The Vikings talked to him this offseason about a potential contract restructuring that would include a pay cut, and it’s clear Thielen will have a diminished role in their offense moving forward.
Thielen told ESPN last month that he hopes to retire as a Viking. But he added: “I also want my chance to show that I can play at a high level.”
“Adam will forever be a part of the Minnesota Vikings family and history,” general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in a statement Friday. “Setting the standard with his play on the field, being a selfless teammate, and making a permanent impact on the community, Adam’s influence has been significant. We are grateful for all he has brought to the organization of the Viking since arriving in 2013, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him last year. He is the best representation of what the Minnesota Vikings stand for.”
Given the relatively thin free agent market at receiver, he should generate interest from teams that can offer more playing time and targets.
Thielen, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, had 70 catches for 716 yards and six touchdowns last season. He has 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns in his career.