New GM Reveals QB Thought Process since Taking over Vikings Job

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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

New Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah set sail on his NFL maiden voyage as boss knowing incumbent QB1 Kirk Cousins was the best option available for the team in the now.

Cousins arguably resides anywhere from the league’s 10th to 14th-best quarterback when each season is over, although the numbers from 2021 situate him closer to seventh.

And in an offseason where Adofo-Mensah could have traded away elephantine trade packages for Russell Wilson or the embattled Deshaun Watson — or taken a swing on a rookie like Kenny Pickett — the new executive opted for Cousins’ services once again, even adding an extra year onto his contract and associating him with the team through the end of 2023. The upcoming season will be Year Five for Cousins in Minnesota, with one playoff trip in four tries to date.

In an intimate interview with USA Today this week, Adofo-Mensah revealed his QB thought process during the first few months on the job to Jori Epstein.

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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Adofo-Mensah acknowledged to Epstein that Cousins isn’t quite in quarterbacking tiers like Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes — which is news to nobody. Cousins is a lightning rod for criticism for one reason — he’s the NFL’s ninth highest-paid passer per average annual salary, and Vikings fans want him to produce like a Top-3 quarterback. Because Cousins earns $35 million per season, folks simply assume “that’s gotta be Top 3 money,” so the player should perform like the aforementioned Brady or Mahomes. The logic is faulty, but that’s how it goes. Moreover, Cousins’ teams since 2012 are completely average with him as a starter, netting a 59-59-2 (.500) record in 120 starts.

So, why did Adofo-Mensah, who had a license to rebuild the roster, re-up with Cousins? Throughout his six months in Minnesota, Adofo-Mensah has championed a philosophy of “competitive rebuild,” allowing the Vikings to compete right now while planning for the future. In the USA Today interview, he mentioned no appetite for trading draft picks away like Halloween candy, a strategy embraced by the Los Angeles Rams amid the last half-decade. Of course, the Rams won the Super Bowl in February, but Adofo-Mensah prefers the Vikings have Super Bowl aspirations for a window of years — not a one-hit-wonder goal.

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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell

Specifically opining about the quarterback position, Adofo-Mensah didn’t believe he could draft a Patrick Mahomes-type in 2022 because, well, there’s only one Mahomes. He told Epstein, “I believe in decision science and our abilities. I don’t believe that I can pick the next Pat Mahomes that much better than anybody. If you give me five chances, I think we’d be better and we’d get four out of five rather than three out of five. But one shot, your odds are at best 65%, so they study this.”

Plus, the key takeaway from the exchange with Epstein: “It’s a little overconfident to think we’d be able to find the next one with certainty,” Adofo-Mensah said, alluding to Mahomes.

Adofo-Mensah hired Kevin O’Connell in February to lead his football team, and O’Connell’s previous employer was coincidentally the Rams, who won a championship with Matthew Stafford. Stafford and Cousins are bedfellows per performance — both men needing supporting casts to thrive. With Detroit, Stafford could not do it by himself, and Cousins has shown in seven seasons as a starter that he needs complementary pieces, too.

Overall, with a new coaching staff and a two-year commitment from the Vikings, Cousins will get an extended trial in Minnesota to effectuate what Stafford did in Los Angeles. Why? He was the best option available this offseason, per Adofo-Mensah, and the Mahomeses and Bradys don’t grow on trees.

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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