1 Free Agent Addition Was a Total Disaster for Vikings

NFC Rivals Could Play Spoiler to Ideal Vikings Draft Scenario
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah the team's year-end press conference for the 2022 season after losing to the New York Giants in the playoffs.

Not everyone is sold on Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, although the GM has done some good things for the organization. The acquisition of star tight end T.J. Hockenson has been clouded by his knee injury, but he will be a foundational piece for years. He also selected Jordan Addison, and more than a handful of players from his two draft classes have played a big role for the Vikings in 2023.

1 Free Agent Addition Was a Total Disaster for Vikings

But there are some bad moves, which will be remembered much more than the satisfactory decisions. Lewis Cine’s fatal choice is a weekly topic in the fanbase, especially because Kyle Hamilton has been an All-Pro caliber player for the Ravens, and the Vikings could’ve had him instead.

1 Free Agent Addition Was a Total Disaster for Vikings
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Another move that can be criticized is the signing of outside linebacker Marcus Davenport, who has been a large disappointment since joining the Vikes in March. With Pro Bowler Za’Darius Smith requesting a trade and the general manager intending to grant him his wish, Danielle Hunter required a new running mate.

Few things are as effective on the defensive side as a duo of productive edge rushers, particularly for young defenses with a questionable talent level. New defensive coordinator Brian Flores wanted a dynamic duo up front, and Davenport was the best edge-rusher on the market, at least in theory. A mess of injuries has always slowed down the talented player who has never played a full season in his five-year career.

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Still, when healthy, he has been a force on the defensive line, and with his flexibility to occasionally line up inside, he was a perfect fit for Flores’ unit. So Adofo-Mensah took a chance and signed the former first-rounder to a lucrative one-year $13 million contract. To fit it under the salary cap, he added void years, pushing some of his cap hit into future years. Without injury history, his salary undoubtedly would’ve been much higher.

With limited cap space, Adofo-Mensah still tried to acquire helpful players in Davenport and cornerback Byron Murphy, both regarded among the top free agents at their respective positions.

The pass rusher showed flashes in training camp, and everyone got excited to see him. Unfortunately, after suffering an ankle injury, he missed the season opener, played four snaps in the second game, and was inactive in Week 3.

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His real season debut came in Week 4 versus Carolina when he recorded a sack in his first serious game action. Another sack followed it in the following week, and he finally arrived. Those who were patient with the pricey defender looked like the clear winners at that point, but it changed just a few days later when he exited the first divisional game of the season when the Vikings visited Chicago. It was another ankle injury that would keep him out for the remainder of the season. He was placed on IR and underwent surgery. Reports about a lack of desire to return to the field surfaced.

Throughout the season, Davenport played in a total of four games, including the few snaps in Philadelphia, logging a total of 118 defensive snaps. Seven tackles and two sacks cost the Vikings a significant portion of their budget.

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The edge rusher position will be a fascinating one in the offseason as Pro Bowler Hunter is scheduled to become a free agent in March, just like Davenport and his backup D.J. Wonnum, leaving Patrick Jones and Andre Carter as the only outside linebackers on the roster. With other needs to address in the draft, Adofo-Mensah will once again have to rely on free agency to fill the void.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt