Panthers Finalizing Deal With WR Adam Thielen

The Panthers continue a busy offseason hellbent on improving their roster, coming to a three-year agreement with long-time Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, according to Ian Rapoport. Thielen becomes the fourth major addition to the Panthers’ offense this offseason and will be a major factor as they attempt to better a unit that finished 29th in passing yards last season.

Thielen is an incredible story of outperforming his resume. An undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State in 2013, Thielen attended a rookie tryout with the Vikings. He was signed to an entry level contract before getting cut in final roster cuts and signed to the practice squad as a rookie. A strong preseason performance in 2014 earned him a spot on the 53-man roster, but he mostly played on special teams for the next two years, getting negligible snaps on offense.

Thielen broke out in 2016 with a 69-catch, 967-yard performance. It solidified him as a full-time starter in the years to come. He gained new highs in each of the next two seasons with career-high 91- and 113-reception seasons of 1,276 and 1,373 receiving yards, respectively. The only thing he ever improved on from those seasons was his touchdown catch totals. In those seasons, he caught four and nine touchdowns. Two years later, Thielen would catch 14 touchdowns in 2020 and 10 in 2021.

After the impressive 2017 and 2018 seasons, Thielen signed a four-year, $64MM extension with Minnesota to keep him under contract through 2024. Hamstring issues would limit him to only ten games that year. He rebounded with the 14-touchdown 2020 season and likely would have, at the very least, matched that output in 2021 if not for ankle surgery that kept him out of four games.

Thielen stayed productive in 2022, but with star wideout Justin Jefferson firmly taking the reins on offense and the emergence of K.J. Osborn, Thielen’s contract became untenable, leading to his release. His new deal is reportedly worth $25MM over the three years with $14MM guaranteed and $10MM in the first year of the contract, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. He’ll now head to Carolina as part of a completely retrofitted offense.

The new Panthers offense will feature either a rookie, No. 1 overall pick or Andy Dalton at quarterback, Miles Sanders at running back, and Hayden Hurst at tight end. With the re-signing of center Bradley Bozeman, a largely improved offensive line completely returns. Now Thielen should figure as the top option at wide receiver.

After trading away D.J. Moore in the deal that brought in the top draft pick, the team could still use some help at wide receiver. The Panthers currently roster Terrace Marshall, Shi Smith, and Laviska Shenault as their top receiving options behind Thielen. All are serviceable, especially with Thielen now in the group, but Carolina is still interested in adding another name. They recently hosted DJ Chark and would very much like to reunite him with Shenault, his former Jaguars teammate.

Regardless of whether or not they can pair Chark with Thielen, the Panthers have a new No. 1 receiver in Thielen. After years behind Stefon Diggs and Jefferson in Minnesota, Thielen will finally get a chance to be a top receiving option in Carolina.

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