Skip to main content
Carolina Panthers

Adam Thielen's ready to start his next chapter in Carolina

Adam Thielen

CHARLOTTE – Adam Thielen set himself up to begin a brand new journey when he signed with the Panthers, and that fact isn't lost on him.

The 32-year-old veteran wide receiver spent the first 10 years of his professional career with the Vikings before jumping to Carolina. Thielen's a Minnesota native from Detroit Lakes, and he played college ball at Minnesota State before turning a rookie tryout with the Vikings in 2013 into a record-setting career that included two Pro Bowl nods from 2017-18.

But after Thielen's release from Minnesota, head coach Frank Reich and the Panthers' offensive staff sold him on the direction they're moving in Charlotte. Now, both sides are hoping to reap the benefits. 

"There are so many factors that lead to these decisions," Thielen said. "I just want people to know that I feel really good about being here, and I feel really good about the choice and how it laid out. I really trusted God through this process, and I tried to take a backseat but kind of put my hand on it as well. And I couldn't be more happy to be here."

Having played in 135 career games, Thielen put up 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns on 534 career receptions as a Viking. He caught 70 passes for 716 yards and six touchdowns last season, proving his productivity even as Minnesota featured 2022 Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson. 

Thielen is already set to stand out at Carolina as the most experienced player in the receiver room – and by a stretch. The only other Panther wideout with more than three seasons logged in the NFL is fellow free agent acquisition DJ Chark Jr. (heading into his sixth season), so Thielen's decade in the league is an outlier. 

It's beneficial for Reich and the Panthers' offensive hive mind as they look to stockpile weapons for their rookie quarterback. And Thielen's ready to be a target for the first overall pick in this year's draft. 

"I've always really enjoyed that part of the game, teaching and helping some of the young guys grow, shed some knowledge of my experience over the last 10 years," Thielen said. "So that's really exciting, especially with the guys that could be that pick. I think there are some really good options and guys that could really help this team in the future. To be part of that building process would be really fun." 

Thielen admitted he left his first meeting with Panthers' brass feeling differently than when he first walked into the facility. He said he initially didn't know if Carolina was the option for him, but the talks he had with Reich, general manager Scott Fitterer, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, and wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson helped him see an "opportunity to build something special here."

"I had a conversation with him, but I know Frank sat down with him and our offensive staff, Thomas Brown, and laid out exactly what the vision for him is," Fitterer said. "It wasn't just like a five-minute passing; 'Hey, once you're here, you're catching balls.' It was a well-thought-out meeting that they had. They found like, 'This will work for both of us. This is good common ground. I can be successful here. I can help us win.' And he can help us win."

Reich said he'd hoped to give Thielen a detailed projection of his role in the offense so he could "envision" himself here. He said they dove into formations, shifts, motions, and the route tree. It appeared as if everyone liked what they heard.

"Adam, I mean, a couple years ago, we're talking about this guy as one of the best receivers in the league," Reich said. "I'm just super excited to have him. He has position flex; his age, to me, is not a big deal. As I watch him on tape, he still looks to have that burst and speed. He's so crafty in his route running. He still can run by you. … We'll really move him all over the place."

Thielen's locked in on a three-year deal with the Panthers, and he's excited to move his wife and three young children to the Carolinas. He brought his family to Bank of America Stadium the day he signed his contract, and his kids' energy showed they felt right at home.

The Thielens haven't ventured out of Minnesota before, but they're set on making the most of the next chapter. And he said they'd plan on sticking around here for a while.

"I wanted to be part of a team that was moving (in) the direction of winning a championship, and I could feel that when I walked in this building," Thielen said. "A great defense they had last year, and they're only building on that; the offensive weapons and pieces that they've put together so far and are going to continue to put forward with the draft and maybe some more free-agent signings. I think that was really intriguing to me.

"I wanted to go somewhere late in my career to end my career, and be a part of it for the long haul. And to end my career in one more spot, not bounce around."

View photos of Adam Thielen and his family as they toured Bank of America Stadium for the first time on Tuesday when Thielen officially signed his contract.

Related Content