Adam Thielen Makes Amends With Vikings After Revealing Hard Feelings

Adam Thielen

Getty Adam Thielen

Longtime Minnesota Vikings star Adam Thielen admitted he harbored some hard feelings toward the team after his release last season but he’s since gained a new perspective in his year away from his home state.

The 33-year-old Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, native revealed in an interview with the Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer felt the need to reach out to general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell during the 2023 season — months after he settled into his new home with the Carolina Panthers.

“It’s tough. Initially, the emotions get the best of you. You get frustrated, you don’t understand it,” Thielen said on a May 8 episode of the Star Tribune’s “Access Vikings” podcast. “I’ve sent several messages to Kevin and Kwesi, letting them no there’s no hard feelings and that I respect those guys and understand that there’s a business to it.”

Thielen added that he enjoyed a level of stability few players are afforded in their careers as he never had to uproot his life for the majority of his playing career — a luxury few NFL players are afforded.

“It’s totally different, a whole different world. You get a whole different perspective. You start to understand what guys go through that I have never had to of through that I took for granted for 10 years in Minnesota,” Thielen said.

“I was born and raised a Vikings fan in Minnesota. You take for granted when you’re there, and then you realize how great of a fan base and how supportive the community is in Minnesota. You get a different perspective.”

Listen to the full interview below (start at 31:30).

Adam Thielen Accepts Hard Lesson About the NFL From Vikings

Adam Thielen

GettyAdam Thielen has become one of the most recognizable players in the NFL, both for his play and his character.

While it doesn’t take away the sting that comes with being released, the writing was on the wall for Thielen.

Once a Pro Bowl talent and mainstay of the Vikings offense, Thielen’s production began to suffer as the Vikings offense pivoted toward younger talent.

After averaging seven targets per game through the first 13 games of the 2022 season, Thielen saw just 20 targets in the Vikings’ final five games after T.J. Hockenson established himself in Minnesota, per Pro Football Reference. Thielen caught three or fewer passes in that span, averaging 24.2 yards per game.

He grew frustrated with his role that year and was slated to carry a $19.9 million cap hit into a 2023 offseason where the Vikings were over the salary cap and needed to cut veteran talent.

Thielen took pay cuts the previous two years but wanted to remain a focal point in the offense, his wife, Caitlin, revealed on social media.

“Adam wants opportunities to show what he can do and feel valued as a receiver so we’ll support him wherever that may be,” Caitlin wrote.

Ultimately, Thielen and the Vikings could not agree on a contract restructure, leading to his release in March 2023. He went on to secure a three-year, $25 million deal with the Panthers and emerged as the top receiver in Carolina.

The move was ultimately the best for both sides as Thielen showed he could still be a premier pass-catcher in the league last his age and the Vikings landed Justin Jefferson‘s running mate for at least the next four seasons in Jordan Addison.

Adam Thielen Reaches Panthers Franchise Record

GettyJustin Jefferson (left) and Adam Thielen (right) after the Vikings’ win over the Panthers in a 2023 matchup.

In his 11th season in the league, Thielen managed to tie a Panthers franchise record, securing 103 catches to tie Steve Smith Sr.’s 2005 record. Thielen’s 1,014 receiving yards were the most in a single season since 2018.

He did so with a rookie quarterback in Bryce Young and amid a head coaching change as well.

While last year was one of the biggest tests of Thielen’s career, he called the move to Carolina a “blessing.”

“Probably my biggest year as an individual, as a family, just kind of going on a new adventure and getting out of our comfort zone,” Thielen said in an April 17 Forbes article. “I think sometimes we get in our comfort zone and it’s hard to grow. This forced us to get out of our comfort zone. Me individually to really have to be the best leader inside of the building and outside of the building for my family. I really had a lot of growth individually and learned a ton.”

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