A Review of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s First Off-season as Vikings General Manager

This past off-season was one for excitement and intrigue for Minnesota. An overhaul of the coaching staff and front office was deemed the best route to success for the team as many believed the roster wasn’t to blame for the teams misfortunes and disappointing results. So after a full off-season under his belt, what did new General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah do to revitalize the roster, and what impact will it have?

The first stage of the off-season, free agency, was a rather intriguing series of events. Kwesi and the Vikings were in on multiple different players but seemed to strike out with cap constraints or scheme fit issues. However, Adofo-Mensah hit a home run with the signing of Za’darius Smith, with a first year cap hit that paled in comparison to other top tier edge rushers. Other additions such as DT Harrison Philips and LB Jordan Hicks gave the defense a veteran boost within the front seven, along with a returning Patrick Peterson to help maintain the secondary. Some may wish the Vikings would have signed more support in the secondary, but for what money Kwesi had to work with, he did a damn good job at bolstering a rather inconsistent and underperforming defensive unit. Many still wish Adofo-Mensah gave JC Tretter a call, but his knee injuries were simply too big of a risk, and the rest of the NFL seems to agree.

Next of course was the draft, and holy hell this was something to behold. Adofo-Mensah did the unthinkable and traded down 20 whole spots in the first round with a division rival no less. An unthinkable move to most people, but Kwesi isn’t an armchair quarterback, he’s the GM of an NFL team for a reason. After another in division trade in the second round, Adofo-Mensah walked away from day one and two with new pieces in the secondary in Safety Lewis Cine and DB Andrew Booth Jr. Along with Ed Ingram, a Guard from LSU who surprisingly won the starting RG spot after an excellent preseason and training camp, Kwesi’s first draft class is a function over flash group. No Kyle Hamilton, no Kenny Pickett, players to slot into spots all across the roster in positions of need. Minnesota didn’t need a flashy pick, they needed a youth movement in the secondary and offensive line, and they did just that.

After training camp and preseason, it was a guess as to who stayed and who went regarding certain players from the previous regime. If there’s anything Adofo-Mensah and the new coaching staff proved, it’s that they didn’t much care for players the previous staff may have been attached to. This started with the surprising release of QB Kellen Mond, WR Imir Smith-Marssette, and DT Armon Watts, all of which were either fan favorites or players people thought still had plenty of time and room to grow. Then there was the trade for Jaelen Reagor which proved why ISM had gotten the axe. Personally, I thought the trade was awful from a valid perspective, but what’s done is done.

We can’t exactly end this article without mentioning the infamous press conference where Adofo-Mensah inadvertently dissed both Kirk Cousins and new HC Kevin O’Connell. To put it bluntly, Adofo-Mensah needs to learn how to talk to the media, and fast. It’s irrefutably idiotic to say what he said to those reporters. There’s a reason staff and players answer questions with the same responses over and over. Regardless of the context, letting words like that reach the public is a huge mistake, and hopefully one Kwesi learns from.

After a tumultuous 2021 season, Vikings fans are looking forward to 2022 with optimism. Personally, I’m a bit more pessimistic but that’s because I know how it feels to be let down by this team so I don’t want to raise my expectations too much. That being said, I for the most part think Kwesi did a solid job for his first year. He has time to learn from mistakes, and expectations for the team are so all over the place that it’s hard to tell what a disappointment would look like. All we know for sure is that regardless of the result, we Vikings fans will still trudge on because if we’re anything, we aren’t quitters. Overall, 8/10. Not too bad of a start.
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