EAGAN, Minn. — Adam Thielen's storybook chapters of playing for the Vikings have ended.
Minnesota on Friday terminated the contract of the receiver who climbed his way up from an unheralded and undrafted free agent to the franchise leaderboard in multiple categories.
Thielen ranks third in team history in receptions (534) and receiving touchdowns (55) and fourth in receiving yards (6,682).
Those numbers, along with his humble career origin story, elevated Thielen to folk hero status around the state, resonating from Lake Superior's North Shore to Southwest Minnesota and his Detroit Lakes hometown in Northwest Minnesota down to Bluff Country by the Mississippi River.
The legacy added another chapter in 2022 when Thielen was named Vikings Community Man of the Year for his work through Thielen Foundation, which he launched in 2018.
View the best photos of WR Adam Thielen from the 2022 season.
Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah released the following statement:
"Adam will forever be a part of the Minnesota Vikings family and history. Setting the standard with his play on the field, being a selfless teammate, and making a permanent impact in the community, Adam's influence is significant. We are grateful for everything he brought to the Vikings organization since arriving in 2013, and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to work with him over the last year. He is the best representation of what the Minnesota Vikings should stand for. I wish nothing but the best for Adam, Caitlin and their entire family."
Thielen first entered the NFL when he was signed after participating in Minnesota's 2013 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. After working primarily on special teams and as a blocker from 2014-15 (20 catches, 281 yards and one touchdown on 31 targets), Thielen broke through in 2016 with 69 catches for 967 yards and five scores.
He started every game in each of the next two seasons and continued to produce even though the Vikings offense underwent multiple changes to its offensive coordinator and endured a bevy of quarterback injuries from 2014-17.
Thielen posted his career bests of 113 receptions and 1,373 yards in 2018, his first season with Kirk Cousins at QB. He became the first player in NFL history to open a season with eight consecutive 100-yard games. The nine touchdowns caught by Thielen that season were topped with a personal-best 14 in 2020 — the fifth-highest total by a Viking in one season all-time.
The former Minnesota State Maverick followed with 67 receptions for 726 yards and 10 touchdowns in just 13 games in 2021.
In the first season under Kevin O'Connell, Thielen caught 70 passes for 716 yards and six scores, becoming just the fourth undrafted player in NFL history with at least 50 touchdown catches.
"Adam's story is one many know and admire and an incredible example of what a relentless pursuit of a goal can ultimately accomplish," O'Connell said in a statement. "For over a decade, Adam honed his craft to become one of the most well-recognized wide receivers in the NFL. Over that same time, he poured so much of his time into his home state, which made it even more special for him to earn our 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination. I personally leaned on Adam for his work ethic, leadership and counsel multiple times to help get our team where we wanted it to be last season. I appreciate Adam's contributions and will be pulling for continued success for him, Caitlin and their children."
Thielen started 101 of the 135 regular-season games he played for the Vikings and eclipsed 100 receiving yards in 21 different games (ranks fifth in team history), including a personal best 202 on 12 catches at Green Bay (Dec. 24, 2016) the day after he and the team were stranded on the runway for hours. He built off that breakout moment to show it wasn't a fluke. Thielen made the Pro Bowl for his 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Off the field, he's been gracious with fans at every turn and found ways to use his platform for good.
Thielen Foundation has donated more than $2.5 million to community organizations, including a pledge last fall of $1 million to be shared among eight Minnesota nonprofit organizations. The organizations align with Thielen Foundation's goals of helping others reach their full potential.
View photos of WR Adam Thielen being honored as the Vikings 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Thielen's contributions have included renovations of high school weight rooms, as well as raising money to replace damaged lights at Brooklyn Center so that players could again enjoy the glow of Friday night lights in front of family members and friends.
Thielen, his wife, Caitlin, and their children Asher, Hudson and Cora have centered their family on philanthropy, and the Thielen family has been intentional in investing in youth who are facing behavioral challenges.
Vikings Owners Mark Wilf and Zygi Wilf issued the following joint statement:
"Adam's tremendous impact goes well beyond the Vikings organization. His rise from a tryout player to one of the best players in the history of our franchise has encouraged so many young athletes and is a testament to hard work and perseverance. While Adam had a competitive fire on the field, he showed grace, compassion and humility within his community. The commitment he and his wife, Caitlin, have shown to Minnesota through the Thielen Foundation has and will continue to provide real change. Adam's energetic, contagious personality will be missed inside the facility, but we are grateful for the foundation he built. He was a Minnesota Viking long before we signed him, and he will be always considered a part of this team. We sincerely wish Adam, Caitlin and their entire family continued success."