Vikings GM Praised Nationally (Again) for Trades with Division Rivals

Vikings GM Praised Nationally (Again) for Trade with Packers
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Trading with division foes is risky business, and new Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah doesn’t care.

During the 2022 NFL Draft, Adofo-Mensah traded with the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers on successive nights, donating premier wide receivers to the competition while stockpiling his defense for the future.

When the dust settled on the trades — and the whirlwind of controversy tapered off — the Vikings, Lions, and Packers exchanged these assets:

Lions and Packers Received:

  • Jameson Williams (DET)
  • Josh Paschal (DET)
  • Christian Watson (GB)

Vikings Received:

  • Lewis Cine (S)
  • Andrew Booth (CB)
  • Ed Ingram (OL)
  • Brian Asamoah (LB)
  • Esezi Otomewo (EDGE)
  • Ty Chandler (RB)
Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo (5) and Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine (16). News Joshua L Jones.

Last week, Bleacher Report applauded the trades by Adofo-Mensah, calling the Lions transaction “one of the best moves of the draft.” 

On Friday, ESPN concurred, this time commending the Vikings wherewithal to trade with the Packers. Seth Walder of ESPN ranked the top five trades from the event, nominating the Vikings as the fourth-best deal.

Taking the No. 90 pick from a divisional opponent in exchange for nothing is better. Critics will say this is bad because Minnesota let the Packers fill a critical need with the selection of Christian Watson. This is faulty logic because that leaves out the context that Green Bay let Minnesota have two picks that were collectively worth more than what they used on Watson, plus the Packers might have traded up and gotten Watson from someone else anyway.

Seth Walder | ESPN
Feb 1, 2022; Mobile, AL, USA; Christian Watson. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports.

Walder’s argument in plain speak: what if the Vikings got the better end of the deal?

For now, it’s fashionable to assume Watson will dominate in Green Bay. But what if he doesn’t? Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won’t play forever — he’ll be 39 this season — and Green Bay usually takes its sweet time acclimating rookie offensive playmakers.

Because Watson is a significant and somewhat local name for Midwesterners, purple onlookers of the trade merely dread his ascension to stardom. Yet, he actually has to do it first.

Moreover, the Vikings didn’t solicit Watson to the Packers for free. Adofo-Mensah “got stuff,” too. The players he onboarded with the fruit of the trade just aren’t splashy offensive playmakers. Minnesota already has Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen for those jobs.

While initial shock and awe of the Vikings trading with primary foes were rampant, calmer NFL brains are recognizing the trade-with-division-foes strategy doesn’t have to be doomsdayist.

Nuanced analysis and upcoming player production over the next few years will decide if Adofo-Mensah was bold and wise — or risky and dumb.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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