A Vikings Buzzword Is about to Disappear

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When Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was hired in 2022, the franchise was not ready to compete for Super Bowls with an aging roster, and a horrible defense. He frequently mentioned and explained his strategy, the competitive rebuild, wanting to be relevant in the playoff race but also overhauling the roster on the fly without blowing everything up.

A Vikings Buzzword Is about to Disappear

A Vikings Buzzword Is about to Disappear
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For most fans, there are two stages a team can be in rebuilding and competing. Teams that aren’t favored to win the division are rebuilding and planning for the future. Well, general managers don’t view it that way and Adofo-Mensah made that clear the second he stepped into TCO Performance Center.

They ask, ‘Are you either all-in or are you tearing it down and rebuilding?’ And I don’t really look at the world that way. The way we look at it is we’re trying to navigate both worlds, we’re trying to live in today and tomorrow — or the competitive rebuild.

Whether you like it or not, everything he has done so far has been just that. Trying to add talent to the roster, clearing the books from bloated contracts, but also trying to compete for a coveted spot in the postseason. He doesn’t believe in getting rid of every valuable asset to overhaul the roster with high draft picks.

Lewis Cine Pitched a Shutout vs. Lions. And Not in a Good Way.
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Not every move has worked out, of course. For example, drafting Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth to open his tenure has been a disaster. Acquiring Jalen Reagor was also a mistake.

At his season-ending press conference, Adofo-Mensah was asked about the competitive rebuild:

The point of that was to still provide ourselves a chance in the tournament every year while regaining financial flexibility, finding the next generation of great Vikings players, incorporating our systems that we value so much. I think when you look back at it, I think we’ve done a lot of positives. We gained some of our financial flexibility, we have competed to be in the tournament last year as the division champions, and this year, through adversity, we had a lot of meaningful games late.

And there are some things we need to be better at, no question. I think you want to get to a point, from a depth, from a top-end standpoint, where you can overcome the adversity. 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.

Adofo-Mensah has lived by his competitive rebuild mantra. The poster boy of that is Kirk Cousins who he kept on the roster to maintain a spot in the playoff race until the very end but without signing him to a long-term deal.

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Rebuilding also means moving on from aging players and replacing them with younger (and cheaper) ones. Byron Murphy took over from Patrick Peterson, Ivan Pace superseded Eric Kendricks, and Jordan Addison is the new WR2 instead of Adam Thielen.

His roster has clearly less money tied up in those aging players and future cap flexibility has been important for the GM. He has barely handed out any long-term commitments, not even for players like Danielle Hunter or Justin Jefferson. Cousins signed a one-year extension through 2023. The former Wall Street trader has roughly $37 million in cap space compared to the burden of -$24 million he entered last year’s offseason.

a Pivotal Vikings
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It can debated whether or not the Vikings are really close to entering that competing window, especially with Cousins and Hunter scheduled to leave in free agency, and with some holes to fill. But that is why it is a “big offseason” as Adofo-Mensah said and it will be highlighted by the decision at QB and the reinforcements he can sign and draft.

Drafting a quarterback or building a dominant defense by adding promising defenders in the draft is the next step in the rebuild phase but if one of those things works out, the Vikings are indeed in a competing window.

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