Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Has a Specific Pattern in Free Agency, But Now is the Time to Adjust

Judgment Day
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Initially, there was Za’Darius Smith. Danielle Hunter needed a running mate so the former Packer was brought aboard. Shift ahead by a year and the solution was Marcus Davenport. Once again, Hunter needed someone to help him, so Kwesi Adofo-Mensah dipped into free agency for a high-level option.

In neither instance did it work out. Za’Darius Smith played well and then demanded a trade; Marcus Davenport played well and then got hurt. Neither will have lasted beyond a single season.

One wonders, then, if the approach gets adjusted. Hunter is heading toward free agency but the widespread expectation is that both sides are amenable to reigniting their partnership (some recent rumblings aside). Welcoming the veteran pass rusher back into the purple fold is simply Step 1.

Who gets to play the role of Robin if/when Batman — Mr. Hunter — returns? Does Adofo-Mensah go into free agency once again? Push the metaphor a bit further. Does Minnesota need to evolve beyond simply a Batman & Robin scenario? Should they have a minimum of three superheros to chase down villainous quarterbacks?

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and The Need for Edge Help

Consider the current lay of the land at edge rusher.

Danielle Hunter’s return would mean the Vikings have a familiar name occupying the top spot. After him, though, things become a bit dicey. Have a look:

  • EDGE1: Danielle Hunter
  • EDGE2:
  • EDGE3:
  • EDGE4: Patrick Jones II
  • EDGE5: Andre Carter II
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Is there any chance the depth is even thinner than the above list indicates? Maybe so. Patrick Jones is by no means a lock to return in 2024.

Entering Year 4 in the NFL, Jones could be cut for modest savings. He’s coming off of a season where he played relatively poorly. Even worse, he’s a draft pick from the former leadership group, meaning there likely isn’t the same degree of loyalty. He looks to be among Minnesota’s top cut candidates.

Vikings Defense Could Soon Receive Help
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

If the Vikings opt for a Jones cut, then things could look like this:

  • EDGE1: Danielle Hunter
  • EDGE2:
  • EDGE3:
  • EDGE4:
  • EDGE5: Andre Carter II

Translation: Minnesota would need to bring in at least three players who are capable of being active during games. Not three players to compete in the offseason, but three who can reasonably be relied upon to jump into game action when September arrives. And, ideally, be able to play at a high level once there.

Draft Analyst
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

As a result, we once again come around to how Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is going to approach the situation in free agency.

At the top of the market, there are excellent players like Brian Burns and Josh Allen. Below that pair are guys like Bryce Huff, Chase Young, Jonathan Greenard, and Josh Uche (among others). Making a move for one of these excellent players still does make a ton of sense.

However, the Vikings can’t be complacent if they do sign a top-tier edge rusher in free agency. They’ve done so the past couple offseasons and each scenario has ended poorly. Making the situation even worse is that Adofo-Mensah hasn’t drafted a single one across his pair of drafts as Minnesota’s GM.

Subtract Any
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

With nine selections, the Vikings must draft at least one edge rusher. Even better would be a single edge rusher who is chosen high in the draft. In that kind of scenario, the depth chart could look like this:

  • EDGE1: Danielle Hunter
  • EDGE2: Brian Burns
  • EDGE3: Jared Verse
  • EDGE4: D.J. Wonnum
  • EDGE5: Andre Carter II

Doesn’t look too bad, does it? Nice blend of age and youth, experience and inexperience. A pile of upside while also offering a high floor. Gotta think offensive coordinators would be much more intimated by that pass-rushing crew than last season’s. Gotta think Brian Flores would feel like a kid in a candy shop.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is very aware that the edge rusher position needs to be replenished in a major way, so expect him to adjust his strategy a bit by leaning on both free agency and the draft to address the need.

Minnesota finished in a tie for 19th last season with 43 sacks. They were the only team to blitz more than 50% of the time.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.