The Carolina Panthers have signed free-agent wide receiver Adam Thielen following his release from the Minnesota Vikings after nine seasons.
Thielen's deal, which spans three years, was first reported by former NFL punter and current podcast host Pat McAfee.
Thielen confirmed with a GIF of the Panthers' mascot doing a dance in the end zone, showing his excitement for his second act in the NFL.
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The Panthers later confirmed the deal. Thielen's price tag has not yet been disclosed.
Carolina is making some moves this offseason, their biggest being the trade with the Chicago Bears for the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
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That pick is expected to be used for a potential franchise quarterback, and moves for players like Thielen are being done to help give that quarterback some weapons to work with.
The Panthers also signed former Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders and former Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurts to add more veteran options to the offense.
Thielen's cap hit was set to be just under $20 million for the 2023 season, and needing more cap space, Minnesota let the 32-year-old know that his release was coming.
Also, wide receiver Justin Jefferson had cemented himself as Kirk Cousins' favorite target with the Vikings, meaning Thielen fell to a No. 2 role. While he doesn’t mind what role he played, Thielen's production saw a dip since Jefferson’s emergence in the league.
He had 726 yards and 716 yards in 2021 and 2022, respectively, after totaling 925 yards with 14 touchdowns on 108 receptions in 2020. Thielen also has two Pro Bowl seasons under his belt in 2017 and 2018, totaling more than 1,275 yards in each of them with 13 combined touchdowns.
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Thielen is still an above-average route-runner with dependable hands, especially in the red zone. In 2021, Thielen’s target share diminished, but he still had 10 touchdowns on the year.
With the Panthers, Thielen has a potential to be the quarterback’s top option in the offense again. That’s especially the case since D.J. Moore was traded to the Bears in the package for the first pick.
Thielen will be joining Terrace Marshall Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr. and Shi Smith on the depth chart.
For his career, Thielen has tallied 6,882 yards with 55 total touchdowns in 135 regular season games.