Minnesota Vikings release Adam Thielen

The Minnesota Vikings are parting with some longtime team leaders this offseason as the team navigates a tight salary cap situation.

Just a few days after Minnesota released linebacker Eric Kendricks, the Vikings organization announced Friday they have terminated the contract for Minnesota native and homegrown star wide receiver Adam Thielen.

“Adam will forever be a part of the Minnesota Vikings family and history. Setting the standard with his play on the field, being a selfless teammate, and making a permanent impact in the community, Adam’s
influence is significant. We are grateful for everything he brought to the Vikings organization since arriving in 2013, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to work with him over the last year. He is the best representation of what the Minnesota Vikings should stand for. I wish nothing but the best for Adam, Caitlin and their entire family,”
Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in a press release.

Thielen, who will turn 33 before the next season starts, was set to count nearly $20 million against the salary cap this year, according to Spotrac. By releasing him, the team clears up more than $6.5 million in cap space.

The move ends Thielen’s time with his hometown team after nine years, during which time he amassed 534 catches for 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns across 135 games.

“Adam’s story is one many know and admire and an incredible example of what a relentless pursuit of a
goal can ultimately accomplish. For over a decade, Adam honed his craft to become one of the most wellrecognized wide receivers in the NFL. Over that same time, he poured so much of his time into his home state, which made it even more special for him to earn our 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination. I personally leaned on Adam for his work ethic, leadership, and counsel multiple times to help get our team where we wanted it to be last season. I appreciate Adam’s contributions and will be pulling for continued success for him, Caitlin and their children,”
Head Coach Kevin O’Connell said.

The Detroit Lakes native who starred at Minnesota State University in Mankato went undrafted, but then made his hometown team out of training camp as a free agent.

After playing mostly on special teams his first two years, Thielen became an offensive force starting in 2016 when he hauled in 69 passes for 967 yards and five touchdowns. He followed that up with a 1,200-yard season in 2017 that earned him Second Team All-Pro honors and a spot in the Pro Bowl, then broke out further in 2018 with a 113-catch season and 1,373 yards.

Thielen has been slowed by injuries in recent years and became more of a secondary option after Justin Jefferson’s arrival in 2020. However, he still played 45 games across the past three seasons and hauled in at least 67 passes for more than 700 yards in each season, totaling 30 touchdowns just the past three years, giving the Vikings one of the league’s top wide receiver duos.

His departure leaves big shoes to fill in the offense as Jefferson continues to garner more attention from defenses.

“Adam’s tremendous impact goes well beyond the Vikings organization. His rise from a tryout player to one of the best players in the history of our franchise has encouraged so many young athletes and is a testament to hard work and perseverance. While Adam had a competitive fire on the field, he showed grace, compassion and humility within his community. The commitment he and his wife, Caitlin, have shown to Minnesota through the Thielen Foundation has and will continue to provide real change. Adam’s energetic, contagious personality will be missed inside the facility, but we are grateful for the foundation he built. He was a Minnesota Viking long before we signed him and he will be always considered a part of this team. We sincerely wish Adam, Caitlin and their entire family continued success,” Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf and Owner/President Mark Wilf said in the release.

Minnesota still faces several other difficult decisions on veterans like safety Harrison Smith, fullback C.J. Ham, edge Za’Darius Smith and, of course, Kirk Cousins, who is entering the final year of his contract.