David NewtonESPN staff writer2 minutes to read
CHARLOTTE, NC — Adam Thelen will help fill the void of a veteran wide receiver that the Carolina Panthers lost when they included DJ Moore in a deal with the Chicago Bears for the first pick of the NFL Draft.
The Panthers announced Sunday that they have reached an agreement with Teelin. A league source told ESPN the deal is for three years.
Tillen met the Panthers in Charlotte last week as he began scouting for free agency. Although he left without a contract, a league source said there was a mutual interest between the two parties in reaching an agreement.
Carolina also met former Detroit Lions wide receiver DJ Chark on Friday, according to a league source. There is still a chance that the team will sign him as well.
It was Terrace Marshall Jr., Lavesca Chenault Jr., and Chee Smith who got a total of 77 catches.
Thielen brings a commanding presence to the receiver boardroom that the Panthers were looking for even before Moore was traded to the Bears. Moore was more than a leader by example.
Thielen was released by the Minnesota Vikings after 10 seasons, set as a cut before June 1 so the team can avoid his 2023 salary cap.
The Minnesota native, who plays collegiately at Minnesota Mankato State, ranks third on the Vikings’ all-time receiving catch list with 534 catches — trailing only Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Randy Moss. He joined the Vikings in 2013 after making the team at rookie tryout camp, working his way up from the practice squad into a special team role to become a two-time Pro Bowl selection as a star wide receiver.
Thielen, who will turn 33 in August, caught 70 catches for 716 yards and six touchdowns last season. However, his role began to diminish, as he ranked fourth in goals behind younger receivers Justin Jefferson, TJ Hawkinson and KJ Osborne over the last five games.
The Vikings made it clear in talks this offseason that Thielen, who was set to make $19.97 million in 2023, would have a reduced role in addition to a pay cut if he restructures his deal to stay with the team. Players told ESPN in February that he hoped to retire as a Vikings but also wanted “my chance to show I can play at a high level.”
Overall, Thielen, who has been called a “dedicated teammate” by the Vikings, has 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns during his career. His best season came in 2018, when he scored 113 times for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns. He was a 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee.
“It’s the best representation of what the Minnesota Vikings stand for,” said general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.
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