Adam Thielen Landing Spots: What Teams Make Sense After Vikings Release 10-Year Vet?

    Where should Adam Thielen sign, and what's his value? We break down five teams Thielen could sign with in 2023 and project his contract.

    The Minnesota Vikings and wide receiver Adam Thielen are likely to “part ways in the coming days,” barring an unexpected contract resolution, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

    We’re breaking down five possible landing spots for Thielen and his contract value as he enters the next phase of his career. Let’s dive into his best fits as he enters his 11th season in the NFL.

    Adam Thielen’s Contract Value and Landing Spots

    Despite Thielen expressing he wanted to “retire a Minnesota Viking” earlier this offseason, he also said there were significant hurdles when it came to his contract.

    Thielen received a four-year extension worth $64.8 million in 2019 before restructuring in 2022 to help give the Vikings some cap relief. The restructure led to massive cap hits in 2023 and 2024, though, with cap numbers of $19.9 million and $21.65 million coming before a void year in 2025. There was no way Thielen would be on the Vikings with those staggering numbers.

    Releasing Thielen with a June 1 designation right now saves the Vikings $13.4 million of his $19.9 million cap hit in 2023 and $16.9 million of his $21.65 million hit in 2024. He’ll join a weak crop of free agents that shouldn’t see more than three sizeable deals.

    The best unrestricted free agent pass catchers besides Thielen include New England’s Jakobi Meyers, Detroit’s DJ Chark, New Orleans’ Michael Thomas, and free agent Odell Beckham Jr. Thielen has seen his production steadily drop as an explosive pass catcher but has red-zone and third-down value. He turns 33 this offseason, making it likely he will sign a short-term deal with incentives.

    With an upside of around 700 yards and 10 touchdowns, Thielen will likely see a significant dip in average annual salary from his previous $14.89 million mark. Something closer to the $10 million range that other decent No. 2 or high-end No. 3 receivers get makes more sense.

    Five Teams That Should Sign Adam Thielen

    Here are five teams that should consider adding Thielen to their roster for the right price.

    New York Jets

    The Jets are in pursuit of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as they look to improve their team. If they do land yet another post-prime former Packers quarterback, they’ll need to load up on their depth where they can. If Thielen wants to win, the Jets will have a decision to make at receiver.

    Veteran Jets receiver Corey Davis can be released this offseason to save $10.5 million of his $11.16 cap hit. If the Jets decide that Davis is a better No. 2 option than Thielen, they can broach Davis about a pay cut. If he’s not open to that, then releasing Davis and reallocating that money to Thielen should be on the table.

    The problem for New York is simply rolling out a young receiving corps isn’t the best way to win with Rodgers. He’s been critical of young receivers for years, even saying they’re “piss poor” in the Packers’ 2018 training camp. Giving him a veteran like Thielen makes too much sense considering Thielen’s ability as a route runner and sure-handed threat.

    The alternative isn’t good, as SNY’s Connor Hughes noted that Denzel Mims would likely replace Davis if he’s released and another veteran isn’t added. He said, “this is the year you see the team [Jets] truly give Denzel Mims a chance to be the guy.” Considering Mims is more of a myth at this point, that’s not a viable option for Rodgers to succeed.

    Cleveland Browns

    The Browns aren’t the cleanest fit because most agree they need speed on offense to maximize quarterback Deshaun Watson. However, with the best receivers on the market being slower, more route-focused players like Thielen, DeAndre Hopkins, and Thomas, there’s a decent shot the Browns just look to add talent in free agency and then speed in the draft.

    A receiver isn’t the biggest need on the Browns, but it is one. Both Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones are good to very good but lack explosiveness. Thielen doesn’t help with that, but the complete lack of depth behind those two means the Browns have to consider the benefit of a slot specialist who brings a great skill set.

    Dallas Cowboys

    Dallas enters this offseason in an interesting position. They could use a true No. 1 receiver like Hopkins and can justify trading assets and committing money to him, but it’s not ideal.

    With a lot of money tied up between Michael Gallup, Tony Pollard, and Ezekiel Elliott, and having to deal with Dalton Schultz hitting free agency, this team could also look to spread the money it would take to get Hopkins.

    That could mean signing Thielen as a complementary player to CeeDee Lamb and a healthy Gallup, plus re-signing Schultz, and keeping Elliott with a pay cut.

    However, that would be banking on Gallup being more explosive after an offseason of continuing to rehab the ACL he tore at the end of the 2021 season. If Gallup doesn’t return to that form, Thielen wouldn’t move the needle enough for Dallas’ upside.

    Kansas City Chiefs

    Receivers continue to be linked to the Chiefs as the Super Bowl champs are set to lose JuJu Smith-Schuster, Justin Watson, and Mecole Hardman. We’ve seen Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes continue to plug in a variety of playmakers and find success. Thielen is a better version of Smith-Schuster and Watson, even if he’s not explosive.

    Thielen ranked fifth in red-zone targets and 32nd in true catch rate, proving to be an efficient player who simply saw his role diminish under a new regime last year. He finished third in total route wins and 15th in overall route win rate. The Chiefs can be confident that Mahomes and Reid would maximize Thielen’s strong hands and precise footwork without having to break the bank.

    New York Giants

    The Giants just committed about $30 million in cap space to quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley, but more work needs to be done for this offense to improve.

    Isaiah Hodgins and Wan’Dale Robinson can be the start of a good receiving unit, but it’d be good to see the team bring back Darius Slayton and add two more quality options in case injuries hit again. It’s hard to get more reliable than Thielen.

    Thielen has played at least 84% of Minnesota’s snaps in five of his last six seasons. Giants head coach Brian Daboll hasn’t worked with a possession specialist like Thielen before either, and because the team doesn’t have a strong tight end on the roster, he can be the de facto red-zone star.

    However, the price would have to be right since the team also needs help on the interior offensive line and defensive secondary.

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