The Minnesota Vikings released two-time Pro Bowler Adam Thielen on Friday, making the wide receiver the second major salary cap casualty of the offseason.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose future with the team has also been in question over recent weeks, took to Twitter several hours after the news broke with words for his now former teammate.
“I have always felt a brotherly kinship with Adam from the day we met,” Cousins tweeted. “So grateful I got to play with him. Lots of great football up ahead in his career.”
Adam Thielen Won’t be Vikings’ Last Salary Cap Casualty in 2023
Thielen’s release did not come as a surprise after negotiations on a pay cut to remain with the Vikings fell through.
The wideout’s contract was restructured prior to last season, which meant he would have cost the Vikings nearly $20 million against the salary cap in 2023. Minnesota saved itself $6.4 million against next year’s cap by cutting Thielen on Friday.
Thielen started all 17 games last season and caught a total of 70 passes for 716 yards and six touchdowns. However, he never gained more than 75 receiving yards in a single contest and was impossible for a cap-strapped team like the Vikings to justify at such an exorbitant cap hit.
Minnesota made its first prominent cut of the offseason on March 6, when the team released linebacker Eric Kendricks. That move saved the Vikings $9.5 million against the 2023 cap. The team remains nearly $7.5 million over the cap ahead of the start of the new NFL year on March 15, which means Thielen won’t be the last player who the Vikings either release or restructure as the organization finishes balancing its books.
Thielen Was Hometown Hero, Fan Favorite Over Decade With Vikings
The wide receiver’s departure from the organization carries weight beyond the nine seasons he played for the Vikings, as Thielen is a Minnesota native who played his college football at Minnesota State Mankato.
Thielen offered public comments of his own on Friday speaking to exactly that via his Instagram account.
To go from a kid growing up in Detroit Lakes to playing for the Minnesota Vikings has been a journey beyond what I could have dreamed of.
I want to thank everyone within the Vikings organization — coaches, teammates, the Wilf family and fans — for all the love and support I have received over the years. I poured everything I had into these last 10+ years in presenting and playing for this team and state. My family and I will always cherish [the] memories we created on and off the field. Minnesota is — and will always be — home to us.
Thielen signed on with the Vikings following a stint as a tryout player at rookie minicamp back in 2013 before going on to earn trips to two Pro Bowls while amassing 534 catches for 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. Thielen has earned a total of $63.8 million over the course of his NFL career.
“Adam’s story is one many know and admire and an incredible example of what a relentless pursuit of a goal can ultimately accomplish,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell wrote in a statement on Friday. “For over a decade, Adam honed his craft to become one of the most-well recognized 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,” O’Connell continued. “I appreciate Adam’s contributions and will be pulling for continued success for him, Caitlin and their children.”