Vikings GM Explains Taboo Trades

Do you remember last April when the Minnesota Vikings fired up the NFL draft with back-to-back trades involving NFC North Division rivals? Well, there was a method to first-time general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s madness.

Adofo-Mensah was in front of a microphone this week at the 2023 NFL Combine, and he was asked questions on a litany of topics, including his outlook on Kirk Cousins’ next contract, plans for Justin Jefferson’s future, and of course, taboo trading tendencies with the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

Vikings GM Explains Taboo Trades

Put bluntly, Adofo-Mensah doesn’t really care if “the other team” improves via trade with the Vikings, so long as his team benefits foremost.

Vikings GM Explains Taboo
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah during the NFL combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

On the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft, Adofo-Mensah traded his 12th overall pick to Detroit for what would turn out to be Lewis Cine (S), Andrew Booth (CB), Ed Ingram (OL), and Brian Asamoah (LB). The Lions landed Jameson Williams (WR) and Josh Paschal (EDGE). Fans were shocked that a) Adofo-Mensah didn’t choose safety Kyle Hamilton from Notre Dame, widely considered the best player available on the board b) he traded with an NFC North team, in general.

But when asked about the trading-with-rivals policy at the NFL Combine, he explained, ” I know that, ultimately, your first path to the playoffs is winning your division, right? So you never want, obviously, make your division stronger. But ultimately, the best path I have to the playoffs is putting the best team on the field. So that’s where that starts.”

The World Is Starting
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before a wild card game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“You can do trades where both sides kind of know what their interests are and both can win. Sometimes you’re trading time value. So my needs might be more current; his needs might be future. So you see if you can come together and trade a player for draft picks and have that make sense,” Adofo-Mensah elaborated.

Before Adofo-Mensah arrived to the Vikings, trades with the Lions, Packers, and Bears were close to nonexistent. Even if the transactions meant the Vikings would improve, conventional logic suggested Minnesota should not advance any inkling of the Lions, Packers, or Bears prosperity. It simply wasn’t worth the risk.

Vikings Fans Have a Clear Plan for the First-Round Pick
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

“I plan on being in this business more than one year, and I want to be able to pick up the phone and call people and do those things. That’s how I dealt in this business; that’s how I dealt in Wall Street. I wasn’t the guy that was gonna call people up, try to see where they were vulnerable to convince them to do something they didn’t want to do,” Adofo-Mensah defended his approach.

Adofo-Mensah essentially believes in compromise for the betterment of both teams embroiled in a trade deal, “I have a vision of what I think player value is or whatever, and I’m trying to do that. And if you have your vision and that can work, let’s meet together in the middle.”

The Vikings have the 23rd overall pick on April 27th, and many Vikings-themed voices believe Adofo-Mensah will trade the pick to accumulate more draft capital in the 2nd and 3rd Rounds.

So don’t rule out deals with the Lions, Packers, and Bears because Adofo-Mensah emphatically doesn’t have a problem with the strategy.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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