Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen was allegedly dissatisfied with his role on the 2022 Vikings, according to a social media post made by his wife. Thielen recorded 70 receptions for 716 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 17 regular-season appearances. Thielen saw 107 total targets, but his 6.29 targets per contest represented the lowest mark of his career since an injury-filled 2019 season. When wiping that peculiar season from history, Thielen saw the lowest target share of his career in 2022 since 2016.
The Vikings could save approximately $13.4 million against the 2023 salary cap by trading Thielen post-June-1, per Spotrac. Trading Thielen this summer may be a wise decision for a Vikings franchise that’s preparing to eventually make Justin Jefferson the highest-paid receiver in all of football. The midseason acquisition of T.J. Hockenson further brings Thielen’s long-term future with Minnesota into question.
We’ve swiftly identified three potential landing spots for Thielen via trade this offseason.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Bill Belichick is preparing to overhaul his offensive personnel this offseason. It’s a much-needed occurrence following New England’s fruitless offensive performance throughout the 2022 campaign. Mac Jones deserves better support than what he received.
The Patriots recently confirmed they’ll be hiring an actual offensive coordinator ahead of the 2023 season. Former Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is a leading candidate. The Patriots have also submitted a request to speak with Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, according to multiple reports.
The Patriots make sense as a Thielen landing spot even if McCardell isn’t their next offensive coordinator, but they may become a leading candidate if McCardell lands the job. Thielen possesses the type of technical skill set Belichick has always held an appreciation for. Thielen would immediately become Jones’ safety valve in New England.
The Browns are expecting to take a sizable step forward in 2023. Their 2022 campaign was essentially a wasted season following their decision to trade for Deshaun Watson despite his looming suspension. Watson ended up looking rather pedestrian in just six appearances, having completed 58.2% of his passing attempts while throwing for seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
The Browns are all in on Watson after signing him to a historic fully-guaranteed contract. General manager Andrew Berry must invest in a strong supporting cast to help Watson reacclimate to playing professional football after such a lengthy layoff. The Browns could upgrade their secondary pass-catching personnel behind Amari Cooper.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski spent seven seasons (2013-19) coaching Thielen in Minnesota. Thielen posted career-best numbers in 2017 and 2018 with Stefanski as an offensive assistant and interim offensive coordinator. Thielen would encounter several familiar faces in Cleveland, including quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing, who previously worked as Thielen’s wide receivers coach in Minnesota. All parties involved should possess an interest in a reunion.
Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah isn’t afraid to execute trades within his own division. The Vikings and Detroit Lions agreed on a blockbuster draft-day trade that allowed the Lions to move up and select former Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams. The Vikings would likely consider trading Thielen to the Bears if they received good value in exchange for his services.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles must continue investing in Justin Fields‘ development. The Chase Claypool trade seemingly backfired, but the Bears still possess plenty of future cap space and draft capital to take another swing at landing a game-changing receiver. The Bears could possess even more draft capital after trading the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft to a quarterback-needy franchise.
There’s also a notable connection on the staff. Bears quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko spent seven seasons (2013-21) coaching Thielen in Minnesota in various offensive roles, including a stint as the Vikings’ receivers coach. Thielen to the Bears makes sense.