The 2023 NFL free agency period is here. While some players will work out extensions to remain with their current teams, most will become unrestricted free agents and hit the open market, which very well could be the case for recently released Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen. One of the stalwarts of the franchise and leaders in the clubhouse, what are some possible landing spots for Thielen for the 2023 season?
Adam Thielen’s Free Agency Predictions
One of the most reliable red-zone weapons in the league since 2020, Thielen is one of the biggest free agent names at his position following his release by the Vikings. With the likes of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jakobi Meyers, Allen Lazard, and Robert Woods signed, Thielen is arguably the top remaining free agent wide receiver.
While fair to say Thielen is no longer in his prime, he’s still an extremely valuable NFL player. In nine seasons with Minnesota, Thielen caught 534 passes for 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns.
In 2022, Thielen caught 70 passes for 716 yards and six touchdowns, which was one of his worst seasons. Yet, for many players out there, that would be considered a successful year. Now, Thielen can find the best fit for him and his skills while bringing a proven skill set to his new landing spot during free agency.
Adam Thielen Could Be an Enticing Option for the Dallas Cowboys
An easy team to call a “best fit” for Thielen during free agency is the Dallas Cowboys. After a second consecutive season ended in a disappointing playoff loss to the 49ers, the Cowboys need to improve their consistency on offense.
The losses of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr. were apparent, as for the majority of the season, CeeDee Lamb was the only viable receiving option. A torn ACL the year prior hampered Michael Gallup’s campaign, and rookie Jalen Tolbert failed to make a significant impact on the roster.
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Although this is a team that we have lauded in the past for its depth of playmakers, outside of Dak Prescott and Lamb, the only other reliable weapon is RB Tony Pollard. That won’t cut it in the NFC East, which might be the most competitive division in the NFL.
It’s well-known the Cowboys are very interested in free agent WR Odell Beckham Jr. and have been since last season. But health is a concern as OBJ is still returning from his ACL tear. While his workout likely helped quell some doubts, it does not answer every question. The safer option, and potentially the one with the most significant return, would be Thielen.
Available on a reasonable contract based on estimated market values, Thielen could be a very productive No. 2 and even accelerate the growth of Lamb in the process.
Should the Kansas City Chiefs Pursue Thielen in Free Agency?
Coming off the second Super Bowl victory of Patrick Mahomes’ young career, the Kansas City Chiefs may look to reload at the WR position. Mecole Hardman is on the open market and JuJu Smith-Schuster has a new home in New England with the Patriots.
By no means am I trying to say there is no talent on this roster. As we all know, there is already an abundance. Travis Kelce is arguably the greatest tight end of all time, and both Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kadarius Toney were serviceable in 2022. Additionally, there are still high hopes and expectations for 2022 rookie WR Skyy Moore.
One of the craftiest route runners in the NFL and consistent red-zone targets, Thielen, in an Andy Reid offense with Mahomes throwing the ball, is a tantalizing prospect and one that has to be labeled as a strong landing spot for the veteran WR.
Assuming he wants to chase a title that has alluded him, who better to sign with than the defending Super Bowl champions (so long as KC can make the salary cap work)?
Could the Buffalo Bills Be an Option for Thielen?
Following another disappointing exit in the playoffs, the Buffalo Bills must prioritize giving Josh Allen more weapons. Although Gabe Davis has shown some flashes in his three years, he’s ultimately proven to become too inconsistent to be a reliable No. 2 option to Stefon Diggs.
If anyone has shown their ability to be one of the best No. 2s in the NFL, it’s Thielen. Not only has he been doing it with the No. 1 receiver in the league, Justin Jefferson, but he and Diggs had the exact same role together in Minnesota.
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While I’m bullish about the outlook for Khalil Shakir, no player available on the market is more proven than Thielen, plus there’s another opening on the depth chart following the release of Isaiah McKenzie.
The Bills are in a win-now window, and adding Thielen in free agency would help maximize their chances of not only competing in the AFC but helping them close the gap to teams like Cincinnati and Kansas City.
Carolina Has Met With Theilen Following His Release From Minnesota
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Thielen visited with the Carolina Panthers on March 15. This would make perfect sense for the Panthers, who look to build an offense and have it ready for whoever they choose to select for their QB in the coming draft.
Following the trade of DJ Moore, Carolina needs to fill the void and currently would enter the season with a WR room of Terrace Marshall Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., and Shi Smith, with recently acquired Miles Sanders in the backfield and Hayden Hurst at TE.
That’s not enough to support the upside of whichever quarterback comes to town. Thielen would be a QB’s best friend, and the leadership he brings could not only help the relatively unproven WR room but also the signal-caller as someone who can reliably get open.