Vikings Release Minnesota Native Adam Thielen, Fans React
Adam Thielen lived the dream of many kids across the country for many years - getting to play for the professional sports team you grew up watching. That dream came to an end this week.
The Minnesota Vikings announced Friday morning that they terminated Adam's contract, setting him out to free agency to find a new team for the 2023 season.
Thielen, who grew up in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, attended college at D-II Minnesota State University-Mankato. Following college, Thielen didn't receive an invitation to perform at the NFL Combine, but was able to make his way onto his hometown team after a rookie tryout in the spring of 2013.
He worked his way up the ranks from the practice squad to a member of the special teams squad, eventually earning more playing time at wide receiver.
His first NFL touchdown came as a member of the Vikings special teams squad in a game against the Carolina Panthers at TCF Bank Stadium during the 2014 season. Thielen blocked a punt, returning the ball for a 30-yard touchdown.
Adam became more of a regular on the starting roster starting in 2016, earning 10 game starts that year. From there, number 19 was a mainstay on the field for the Vikings.
He ranks third in team history in receptions with 534 as well as third in receiving touchdowns with 55. Additionally, he ranks fourth in receiving yards with 6.682. His biggest season for receiving yards was the 2018 season, with 1,373 yards. The 2017 season was his only 1,000+ yard season, earning 1,276 yards.
While his receiving yards fell off a little after that time, his touchdown numbers went up. Thielen's two biggest seasons in touchdowns scored were 2020 (14 touchdowns) and 2021 (10 touchdowns).
Now, it is worth noting that there's a slim chance Thielen could make his way back to the team. It isn't super likely, but if nobody scoops him up in free agency and he's willing to take a new deal that is more fitting to the team's salary cap situation, he could make a return. I wouldn't hold my breath, but it is certainly not impossible.
Regardless of what happens next, Adam's story with the Vikings is truly one of hard work paying off, coming from small-town Minnesota and earning his way onto an NFL team and eventually into the ranks of notable players at his position - all as an undrafted free agent from a Division II school.
The Vikings shared a thank you message, highlighting Adam turning dreams into reality with an incredible career with his hometown team. They also included a brief highlight video of some of the memories of Adam with the team, seen below.
Furthermore, the team's ownership shared some thoughts about the release. The Wilfs highlighted his "tremendous impact" both within and beyond the team. They recalled his rise from undrafted free agent to one of the best players in team history, while also pointing out his high caliber off-the-field personality.
The news of Adam being released by the Vikings is a tough pill to swallow for fans of the team. That hard-earned role on the team as a hometown guy, and genuinely nice person, makes facing the end of his career with the team difficult. As Adam mentioned after the end of the team's season, football is a business, and this is an example of that business doing what it does.
Many fans shared sentiments on social media, including some of the following, in response to the Vikings official post about the news: