Fate of 2 Players Reveals Phase of Vikings’ Competitive Rebuild

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When Kwesi Adofo-Mensah superseded Rick Spielman as general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, he claimed he would do a competitive rebuild, trying to live in both worlds, competing and rebuilding. Overhauling the roster without having to endure a three-win season was his goal, and so far, the team, indeed, hasn’t gone through such a season.

Fate of 2 Players Reveals Phase of Vikings’ Competitive Rebuild

Fate of 2 Players Reveals Phase of Competitive Rebuild
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Once free agency begins, merely 12 players remain with the team from the Spielman era, and Adofo-Mensah re-signed half of those. While it can be debated whether or not Kwesi’s guys are actually good, he has surely rebuilt the roster. The Vikings have made the playoffs once in his tenure, and despite absurd injury numbers, the team stayed in playoff contention until the year’s final game. So, both parts of the competitive rebuild have been done.

But at some point, the Vikings must exit that circle and erase the word rebuild, setting their sights on the Super Bowl, and Adofo-Mensah knows it.

At his season-ending press conference, he talked about his patented approach.

Right now in the competitive rebuild, we want to get to a place where there’s no rebuild. It’s just competitive in a window. And I think we’re close to that, it’s gonna take a big offseason, it’s why we’re gonna be here a lot. I think it’s important, it’s key, and I’m excited for the challenge.

He wants his franchise to compete, and the offseason can be a big step toward that goal with the right decisions. His decisions.

Return to Familiar but Unkind
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Roughly a third of the roster is currently scheduled to enter free agency in March, including some high-profile names. The two most notable players are Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, both longtime staples of the franchise.

The decision about those Pro Bowl players’ future defines the competitive rebuild stage. Suppose Adofo-Mensah is serious and wants to enter the competitive phase perhaps as early as next season. How could he justify letting two of his top players walk out of the building without having a successor ready to take their place?

How Far Can Danielle
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) is sacked hard by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) in the second quarter of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

At quarterback, the two guys under contract are Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall, and Hunter’s teammates on the edge remaining under contract are Patrick Jones and Andre Carter. Adofo-Mensah, of course, can draft one of those positions when he is on the clock with the 11th overall pick, but those rookies require time to develop into actual replacements, and the potential free-agent additions are downgrades.

Downgrading at perhaps the two most important positions on the football field wouldn’t imply that the team will compete for a Super Bowl. If the duo doesn’t return, the Vikings are still in a rebuilding phase rather than a powerhouse.

Cousins to NFC
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Cousins has emphasized that the structure of a potential new deal is more important than the salary. He will focus on the guaranteed money and the contract length when deciding if an offer is satisfying. On the flip side, GM Adofo-Mensah indicated that he wants Cousins back but must protect the organization from a potential Cousins decline.

Ultimately, he must decide where the franchise is in the competitive rebuild and whether it is worth continuing to pay a hefty salary to his two star players, but it is hard to envision the Vikes competing for a Super Bowl without them on the team.

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