Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is Marrying Free Agency and The Draft
NFL general managers look at free agency and the draft as complementary parts of the offseason. As the two main methods of adding talent, they combine to give GMs a shot at (re)constructing their roster for contention in the upcoming season and beyond.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is no different.
So far, he has demonstrated a tremendous amount of patience while navigating free agency. The main deals focused in on premium positions on defense: corner and edge rusher. Byron Murphy and Marcus Davenport are widely believed to be the team’s best deals. Both carry small cap hits in 2022 – $2,814,708 for the corner and $5,964,706 for the pass rusher – both offer youth: Murphy is 25 and Davenport is 26.
In a perfect world, the pair can work alongside the incoming draft class to raise Minnesota’s defense out of laughingstock status.
Of course, the GM didn’t constrain himself to just these deals. Other external free agents – Dean Lowry, Josh Oliver, Troy Reeder, Brandon Powell – were brought aboard. A concerted effort was made to ensure various internal free agents – Garrett Bradbury, Andrew DePaola, Oli Udoh, Alexander Mattison, Austin Schlottmann, Jonathan Bullard (among others) – were retained.
In the end, the Vikings have a roster that doesn’t have too many positions aching for reinforcements.
Perhaps the team’s main deficiency is at corner. Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, and Duke Shelley have all found new teams. Chandon Sullivan doesn’t look likely to return after struggling for most of 2022. Earlier in the week, Kevin O’Connell was asked about the corner position and he confirmed that more work remains: “We know we need to add.”
He goes on to note that the team will look to not just the draft but potentially for some “veterans.” In other words, O’Connell is looking to both methods of adding talent. Each are still intersecting with each other.
However, the team’s willingness to slow play the second wave of free agency suggests they hold this year’s corner prospects in high regard. A team’s salary cap doesn’t allow for a GM to sign vets to plug every hole. Instead, the team needs to rely on players coming in on rookie deals to make meaningful contributions.
With the 23rd selection in the NFL Draft, the Vikings could pick someone like Cam Smith, Joey Porter Jr., Devon Witherspoon, Kelee Ringo, or Emmanuel Forbes. Alternatively, the team could trade down, accumulating more draft capital and then targeting help for the secondary in the 2nd and/or 3rd round(s).
The broader point, folks, is that free agency and the draft are walking hand-in-hand for Minnesota. Smart teams know how to move back and forth between the two areas of player acquisition.
In fact, the end of the NFL Draft re-energizes the free agency market. Teams get a chance to have a bird’s eye view on their roster after the March and April moves. Is there still a glaring need? What about a spot that could be improved with just a bit more competition? Any concerns about there being too much youth at a particular spot?
If the answer is yes, then circle back to free agency to see if there’s an unsigned vet to fill the role.
Some of the (currently available) names to remember are Leonard Floyd, Rock Ya-Sin, Justin Houston, Odell Beckham Jr., and Marcus Peters. All 5 are more than capable of contributing to an NFL team. All 5 may need to wait until after the draft to sign their next deal.
Quite often, fans can get impatient. Seeing a boatload of signings early in free agency is far more exciting than the patient, methodical approach we’re seeing from Adofo-Mensah. However, there is plenty of wisdom in not overexerting one’s team building in just the initial days of the offseason.
After all, we’re talking about a GM who can commonly be found preaching about the merits of value. Tossing out money left and right is the opposite of value; blending shrewd signings with upside picks is far greater value.
Before September arrives, the roster is going to look considerably different than it does now. Lots of additions are upcoming (and maybe even some subtractions). Do your best to be patient and to keep enjoying each step of the process.