Kevin SeifertESPN staff writer3 minute reading
The Minnesota Vikings fired receiver Adam Thielen on Friday, ending a storied tenure for the Minnesotan who won the hearts of fans across the region.
Born in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and after playing college at Minnesota State Mankato, Thielen signed with the team in 2013 after serving as a tryout player in rookie minicamp. By 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 of whom are 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 can ultimately be achieved through relentless pursuit of a goal,” coach Kevin O’Connell said in a statement. “For more than a decade, Adam has honed his craft to become one of the most recognized receivers in the NFL. During that same time, he has dedicated so much time to his home state, which made it even more special for him to earn our Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination 2022. I have personally relied on Adam repeatedly for his work ethic, leadership and guidance to help get our team to where we wanted to be last season.”
But as Thielen approached his 33rd birthday, he began to lose ground to the younger players in the Vikings offense. In the final five games of last season, he ranked fourth in targets behind Justin Jefferson, TJ Hockenson and KJ Osborn.
That dynamic, along with a contract that imposed a $19.97 million cap hit in 2023, led to Friday’s move. The Vikings talked to him this offseason about a potential contract restructuring that would have included a pay cut, and it was clear Thielen would have a reduced 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 lasting impact in the community, Adam’s impact is significant. We are grateful for all he has brought to the Vikings organization since arriving in 2013, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him over the past He is the best representative of what the Minnesota Vikings should stand for.”
Given the relatively thin free agent market at the receiver position, he should draw interest from teams that can offer more minutes 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.