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Carolina Panthers signing former Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen

The Carolina Panthers have landed a two-time All-Pro receiver to help offset trading their No. 1 receiver.

Former Vikings star Adam Thielen agreed to contract terms with Carolina on Sunday, the team announced. Thielen visited the Panthers last week before inking a three-year deal with the team.

Thielen, 32, started all 17 games for Minnesota last season, helping the Vikings post a 13-4 record under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. He caught 70 passes for 716 yards and scored six touchdowns.

Thielen was a cap-casualty this offseason, ending a nine-year Vikings career. He ranks third in franchise history in receptions (534) and receiving touchdowns (55). Thielen signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2013, and played his way into a starting role after standing out on special teams. He compiled 6,682 receiving yards over nine seasons, good for fourth-most in team history.

This offseason, the Vikings and Thielen could not agree on a contract restructure, largely because Thielen believed he deserved a larger role in Minnesota’s new offense. Thielen posted consecutive 1,200-plus yard seasons in 2017 and 2018 but has not eclipsed 950 yards since 2020.

With the Panthers, Thielen will get every opportunity to be the team’s No. 1 pass catcher. Carolina’s wide receiver depth chart is frighteningly thin. New Chicago Bears receiver D.J. Moore accounted for 28% of the Panthers’ receiving yards (888) last season. His seven touchdowns made up 44% of the team’s 16 total receiving touchdowns. Terrace Marshall Jr., Shi Smith, and Laviska Shenault Jr. are the only receivers remaining on the roster who caught a pass last season.

The team traded Moore to the Bears on Friday as part of a blockbuster package for the No. 1 overall draft pick.

Thielen is an underneath receiver who provides sure hands across the middle and causes red zone mismatches in short yardage situations. He played his entire Vikings career alongside either Stefon Diggs or Justin Jefferson, taking advantage of the consistent double coverage both All-Pro receivers faced.

The Panthers have been busy during the first week of free agency. Thielen joins new quarterback Andy Dalton, tight end Hayden Hurst and running back Miles Sanders. In Carolina, it’s unlikely Thielen will be playing aside an All-Pro; however, his leadership and experience can help guide a young receivers room of Terrace Marshall JR. and Laviska Shenault Jr. into the new Frank Reich era.