Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Confirms Vikings’ Plan

General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in August of 2022 at Minnesota Vikings headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota.

For the last two seasons, the Minnesota Vikings have hoped to thread the needle.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Confirms Vikings’ Plan

That is — competitively rebuild the franchise while winning games and remaining a contender. In 2022, the plan worked marvelously, resulting in a 13-4 record during the first year of general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell, who took over when Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer were terminated in January 2022. The New York Giants bounced Minnesota in the 1st Round of the postseason that year, but at least the new regime jumped out to a hot start.

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The following season, 2023, was a bit different, a year that tumbled into irrelevance after quarterback Kirk Cousins was lost for the season in Week 8 at Lambeau Field. The Vikings finished 7-10 after Joshua Dobbs, Jaren Hall, and Nick Mullens took a stab at quarterback. Soon after, Cousins bolted for the riches of the Atlanta Falcons, and Minnesota signed Sam Darnold while drafting Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy in April.

Now, Minnesota considers itself positioned to effectuate a Super Bowl push — perhaps not immediately in 2024 but not too far into the distance — onboarding players just entering their prime. Adofo-Mensah confirmed the strategy this week in an interview with Star Tribune.

Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J.J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

“Big picture, we’ve set ourselves up where I feel like we have a young roster where a lot of players are before their prime, or entering their prime at positions that matter. There are some other places where we have players that are developing and growing, and pieces that fit, complementary football-wise. And then in terms of our culture, I think we’re building it the right way,” Adofo-Mensah told Ben Goessling this week.

The approach checks out. Since his arrival, Adofo-Mensah has fancied short-term deals for newcomer free agents between the ages of 24 and 26. He spent big on tight end T.J. Hockenson and wide receiver Justin Jefferson, but the rest of the additions fit a somewhat strict criteria: young, affordable, short-term deals.

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Adofo-Mensah added, “We knew we had to get to this place. We’re not patting ourselves on the back here; that’s not how this is. We’re happy with our plan, but plans don’t get you far in this league. It’s showing up here every day on the grass and getting better, and then me going in with my staff and trying to improve the team as best we can.”

The Vikings didn’t profess all-in stakes in 2022 or 2023, instead insisting they’d be competitive in the final years of Cousins’ stay in the Twin Cities. Now, however, without Cousins in the house, Minnesota can load up around Jefferson and Hockenson while hoping some combination of Darnold and McCarthy blossoms between now and the next few seasons.

Timing Unfortunate
Tight end T.J. Hockenson, left, and the Minnesota Vikings prepare to take the field prior to a game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. © Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK. Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The competitive rebuild is complete, and now the overall verdict is essentially on the arms of Darnold and McCarthy — and mostly McCarthy.

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 MIN 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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