The Skol Debate: Should Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Pursue a Trade?

The NFL Salary Cap Will Jump to a Record-High in 2023
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

There have been a couple debates so far. We’ve discussed whether the Vikings are a top team in the NFC and whether fans ought to be concerned about the defense. At this stage, the focus shifts toward whether GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah ought to pursue a trade.

As per usual, Josh Frey and K. Joudry are the debaters. Again, the goal here is to generate a productive conversation with competing viewpoints getting some air time. Neither is looking to misrepresent and/or attack the other side. So, remember to be charitable with the sparring partners you may have in your own debates.

Take a look at which side the debaters are representing:

The Purple Corner: Josh Frey (Make a trade)
The Gold Corner: K. Joudry (Sit tight)

Alas, it’s time to debate.

Should Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Vikings Look to a Trade?

KJ: We may end up having a different perspective on how things should proceed with a trade, Josh, but I think we can both agree that a 5-1 start is sensational. I certainly didn’t foresee this start to the year. 

Nevertheless, I think it’d also be safe to say that Minnesota isn’t a team that can afford to be complacent. They’ve won four straight, and yet all four of the wins could have been losses. The Lions, Saints, Bears, and Dolphins all had a legit chance to snag the “W” over Minnesota. 

Before getting too far ahead of myself, though, perhaps I should kick it over to you. What are your thoughts on where this team is at? Is there a specific position you’d like to solidify through trade?

Oh, and one more thing: the NFL trade deadline is November 1, so the day is getting close. 

JF: Agreed on all fronts. Only four teams in the NFL can say they are at least 5-1 right now. The fact that the Minnesota Vikings are one of them should be celebrated heading into the bye week. 

That said, this team can’t afford to take its foot off the pedal; we’re all old enough to remember how the 2016 season ended. This is a very important stretch of games coming up that could either ensure Minnesota takes part in the playoffs this year, or it could completely derail a very productive start. 

Arguing that major changes need to be made to any part of this roster simply makes very little sense to me, especially considering how well the Vikings have started. However, little additions in some areas could make it that much easier for the Vikings to clinch a playoff berth. In particular, adding another piece to the secondary might be very beneficial. Perhaps this potential for improvement will prompt Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to look toward a trade.

KJ: Right, fair enough. So we’re in agreement that a major shake up shouldn’t be on the table. That being said, I think it’d be fair to say that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah needs to be permanently open to finding ways to improve the roster, which means a trade is possible. He should consider all options that give his team a better shot at contending for the Super Bowl. As we saw during the draft and during the offseason, that can involve making some trades. 

Now, we come back to the central question: should the Vikings get in on the trade craziness leading up to the deadline? I’m going to say no (unless someone makes an offer that’s simply too good to turn down). 

The first and most obvious hurdle simply rests in the team’s financial reality. Currently, the team has less than $900,000 in cap space, a minuscule amount in the world of NFL finances. Next year doesn’t look too much better. With 42 players under contract, the Vikings are projected to have a bit more than $6.6 million in room, per Over the Cap. In other words, it won’t be super easy to borrow from next season to pay for this one. 

As we all know, the salary cap is a malleable monster, but it is still very real. The financial flexibility – or lack thereof – makes a deal challenging. 

Josh, how will the Vikings overcome this issue?

JF: The salary cap is certainly the biggest obstacle for the Vikings to navigate, and it likely eliminates the possibility that they’ll land any whales at the deadline. That said, Minnesota could be a team that receives some calls about a couple players as well.

In particular, Chris Reed comes to mind. After signing a two-year deal that sees him carry a cap hit of $1.75 million in 2022 and $2.75 million in 2023, he is yet to appear in a game this season for the Vikings. 

Much of this has to do with the emergence of rookie Ed Ingram at right guard as well as some much-improved play from Garrett Bradbury

Teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost key pieces on their offensive line this year, so they could look into acquiring the veteran o-lineman. 

The same philosophy applies to the defensive side of the ball where the Vikings have acquired defensive linemen aplenty over the past few months.

Ross Blacklock, for example, is a player that Minnesota took on in August. While he has played some rotational snaps, his impact on the defense has been limited due to consistent play from other guys like James Lynch and Dalvin Tomlinson.

Blacklock came into the year with a cap hit of just over $1.33 million and could still carry some value as a younger defensive tackle that is simply buried on a deep depth chart.

Perhaps the Vikings want to retain this depth along the trenches, but to free up cap space, this is the area that I would first look at. It’s still a penny-pinching scenario for Minnesota, but two moves here could free up enough cap to bring in another cornerback to help the secondary.

Does that seem feasible to you, or have I lost my marbles?

KJ: My best guess is that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Kevin O’Connell, and the rest of the Vikings’ leadership will be very hesitant when it comes to a trade involving their veteran depth, especially up front. Reed is someone who I’ve been thinking about recently since Ingram has struggled more lately. The RG had a tough game against the Dolphins, so it crossed my mind that perhaps the team would look to move their rookie to a backup role. 

One thing I’ve learned since starting this writing stuff is that people in the NFL often understand things differently than people outside the NFL. I don’t think trading a lineman makes sense, but I’ve been wrong before on this kind of thing. 

What seems likelier, at least to my mind, is a restructure. Eric Kendricks is an option since he can still play at a high level and doesn’t have too many guarantees moving forward. The issue, of course, is that this sort of move would push money into the future, a reality Adofo-Mensah may be looking to avoid. 

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the team’s management figures out the money. Perhaps the team finds itself with a few million and perhaps a trade partner is willing to retain some money in a deal. If those things sync up, who would you be keeping an eye on? Any specific players or positions? 

JF: I’ve got a few options in mind. If the Vikings are able to free up a good chunk of cash, a trade proposed by Bill Barnwell of ESPN makes a lot of sense to me. That trade involves sending slot corner Michael Davis to Minnesota. It could come on the cheaper end for the Vikes considering Davis has been buried behind J.C. Jackson on the depth chart in LA. 

However, he carries a rather large cap hit with him both this season and next, so if Minnesota can’t work things out on that end, I’ve been keeping my eye on the New York Jets, as well. Seeing as New York drafted Sauce Gardner and brought in D.J. Reed from Seattle, their starting CB from 2021, Bryce Hall, has seen just five defensive snaps this season. 

Last year, the second-year player out of Virginia started all 17 games at corner for the Jets, and he recorded 16 pass defenses on the year, which ranked fifth in the NFL. 

He may not be an elite player at the corner position, but there’s no doubt that he brings talent to the field. Additionally, Hall was a fifth-round pick in 2020, meaning he carries a minuscule cap hit of $973,951 in 2022 and just over $1 million in 2023. 

Patrick Peterson may be turning back the clock right now, but this could be a move in preparation for an eventual regression later this season. Or, Andrew Booth and Hall could go into the 2023 season battling for a starting spot on the defense. 

Finally, while he was at Virginia, Hall was well-known for being a versatile defender and willing to play other positions other than just outside CB. Given how the Vikings built their team this offseason, this feels exactly like the type of player that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would value. Perhaps the Vikings could give him a shot as a slot CB or even some snaps at safety. 

Maybe I’m off my rocker, though. Do you have your eye on anyone at this point?

KJ: If there is a trade, I’ve got my eye on defense. A team I’ve been thinking about for potential trades is the Houston Texans. They aren’t going anywhere in 2022 and have a ton of players on modest, short-term deals. 

Like yourself, I’d welcome some extra help at corner, especially in the slot. Desmond King II is currently the 9th-ranked corner on PFF. He isn’t quite 28 and has a history of strong play. 211 of his snaps have been in the slot (he only has 8 out wide) and his cap hit is modest for an acquiring team. 

Otherwise, I’ve wondered about Jerry Hughes or Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. I’m of the opinion that there’s no such thing as too many impact pass rushers. Hughes is older but is still getting strong grades on PFF. Meanwhile, Okoronkwo – who played for the Rams last season when Kevin O’Connell was on staff – is playing on a 1-year deal that is coming with just a $3.132 million cap hit for the Texans, per OTC

Maybe Adofo-Mensah will give the Texans a call to see if a late-round pick would be enough to acquire one of their impact defenders. 

JF: King would certainly be a solid acquisition too if Houston is willing to part with him, and I agree, you can never have too much pass rushing talent. 

That feels like a good place to conclude this week. It seems we are in agreement that no drastic changes need to be made, but if there is a move, it should improve the defense. 

Readers, what trade targets, if any, do you have in mind as the trade deadline approaches? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

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