The Most Important Takeaway from Vikings End-of-Season Press Conference

January 10th, 2024. Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center concluding the 2023 NFL regular season. Minnesota finished 7-10 in 2023 and missed the postseason.

The Minnesota Vikings are inside a self-described “competitive rebuild” phase of franchise history, but the period could be nearing a close, according to the team’s general manager.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, along with head coach Kevin O’Connell, spoke to reporters Wednesday at an end-of-season press conference, and the duo was asked where the team is right now in the competitive rebuild.

The Most Important Takeaway from Vikings End-of-Season Press Conference

The answer? Well, the “rebuild” noun could soon drop from the team’s billboard. With a productive offseason, Minnesota could be simply competitive by September.

from Vikings End
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah & Kevin O’Connell Talk Free Agent Moves, Future at Quarterback & 2023 NFL Draft in Eagan, Minnesota, on April 13th, 2023. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell joined the organization in January and February 2022, respectively.

“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,” Adofo-Mensah explained with O’Connell at his side.

The pair owns a 20-14 (.588) record since taking over the franchise. Meanwhile, the Vikings faced a salary cap underwater by approximately -$24 million entering last offseason; this year, Minnesota is about $37 million in the green — a $61 million turnaround, in a good way.

no quit
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Adofo-Mensah added, “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.”

How do the Vikings specifically retire the “rebuild” facet? Probably keynote free-agent acquisitions, continued player development, and most importantly, identifying + drafting a quarterback of the future — whether Kirk Cousins remains in Minnesota or ventures elsewhere.

General Opinion Has
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Cousins is scheduled for free agency in two months, but Adofo-Mensah sounded enthusiastic about keeping the 35-year-old for another year or two — at a fair price. “I’ve said it. I think I’ve been pretty consistent with that. Kirk, the player, is someone that we saw what he does to this team. I thought we were playing really good football before he got injured and it’s the most important position in sports. Ultimately, it always comes down to can you find an agreement that works for both sides and all of those things, but as a player, it’s certainly my intention to have him back here,” the executive opined about Cousins’ future.

He also stated his job was to “protect” the Vikings at all times, implying he wouldn’t hand Cousins a gargantuan long-term contract.

The Vikings Will Stay Close to Home in 2023
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

No NFL team rebuild is complete without a plan for the future at QB1. So, in all likelihood, Adofo-Mensah will select his Cousins successor in April, trade for a different young passer like Zach Wilson or Trey Lance, or double down on current rookie Jaren Hall. And those are options could in addition to Cousins’ roster presence in 2024.

No matter what, though, the rebuild is not intended to be permanent, and Adofo-Mensah confirmed Minnesota’s competitive window is around the bend.

The Vikings possess the 11th overall pick in the upcoming draft.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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