Vikings Rumors: Bamboozling Kwesi, Too Thin at EDGE, & Rookie Hype

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We’ve transitioned into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors are going to be coming fast and furious.

As a result, I’m returning to the “Vikings Rumor Wrangle,” a series I’ve leaned on previously to keep readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss whether Kwesi Adofo-Mensah got bamboozled in a trade, the need for edge rusher contributors, and the offseason rookie enthusiasm.

The Vikings Rumors – 05.17.2023

Rumor #1 – Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Got Bamboozled in the Za’Darius Smith Trade

A lot of Vikings fans think the team didn’t get nearly enough for the star edge rusher. After all, he’s coming off a 10-sack season. The report from Mary Kay Cabot that the Vikings needed to retain some of the compensation further soured the deal. Couldn’t they do better?

Possibly, but there are some factors that made the deal difficult to figure out.

Report: Za'Darius Smith Is Preparing to Sell House in Minnesota
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

First off, we need to acknowledge the most obvious hurdle: Smith made his displeasure known on Twitter. In so doing, he undermined some of Minnesota’s leverage. Gotta think some teams saw that post and decided they’d stay on the sideline, hoping that Za’Darius became a free agent. Why part with precious draft capital when someone could (potentially) be had as a free agent?

Even still, Kwesi didn’t have zero leverage. Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, there were a couple other teams interested in acquiring the discontented edge rusher. According to Fowler, though, Smith “found [the] chance to play opposite Myles Garrett appealing.” That’s not an insignificant detail, folks. Any acquiring team would have to come to a new agreement with Smith since the contract is the reason for his displeasure in the first place.

Draft Prospect
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The GM’s job, then, was to trade an older, sometimes injured pass rusher (who is still capable of being very productive) after the pass rusher went public with his desire to leave. A trio of teams were interested but Kwesi had to work alongside the player himself to get a deal that works for him as well as the acquiring team (given cap constraints at this stage in the offseason).

So, a lot of factors at play. I’ll admit the pick swap is underwhelming but insisting that Kwesi got duped isn’t quite right. In the end, he may lose the trade, but the man was dealing with a complex situation.

Rumor #2 – The Vikings Now Have a Glaring Need at EDGE

Well, that’s going to depend on what you think of Minnesota’s young fellas. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. D.J. Wonnum, Patrick Jones, Luiji Vilain, and Andre Carter II need to prove they can be effective in 2023 (among others).

Danielle Hunter – who is worthy of an extension – and Marcus Davenport – who is under the spotlight – look like a great top pair. The concern, of course, is with health (or lack thereof). Davenport has never played a full season across his five years in the NFL. Meanwhile, Hunter is coming off a fully healthy 2022 but he missed the vast majority of the 2020 and 2021 seasons. If one (or both) go down, the Vikings’ pass rush is going to face a significant hurdle.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Washington Commanders
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) sacks Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

On Spotrac, there is a helpful tool that allows you to see who the free agents are at a particular position. Some of the names that stand out at EDGE are Leonard Floyd, Frank Clark, Yannick Ngakoue, Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram, and Justin Houston. As assassins for hire, these players can be brought aboard on a short-term contract for a very specific purpose: get after the QB.

Minnesota need not feel rushed to add a vet since they do have a strong top pair and some promising youth. However, we shouldn’t be at all surprised if Brian Flores prompts his GM to give him just one more pass-rushing weapon.

Rumor #3 – The Rookies are Being Praised Left and Right

To a certain extent, yes. The Vikings’ Twitter account has fallen prey to one great offseason temptation: releasing slow motion videos of draft picks catching the football without any gear on and without any hindrance from the opposition.

Now, does this mean Vikings fans are foolish to be enthused about the recent additions? By no means. Bask in the hope that comes from the offseason! It’s one of the great joys of being a football fan (and sports more generally).

5 Takeaways Following the Vikings Draft
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison reacts after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings twenty third overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

However, we’d still be wise to remember that this year’s incoming draft class (and UDFAs) have much to prove. Being impressive in May isn’t the same thing as being impressive from September onward.

Currently, Jordan Addison should be considered the favorite the win the WR2 job in Minnesota. Spending such a high selection on him suggests there’s strong belief he can contribute early, especially since the team could have opted for Joey Porter Jr. or Deonte Banks.

The wild card? None other than 4th-round DB Jay Ward. No one really knows what position he’ll focus on apart from it being in the defensive backfield. If there ends up being an injury or an underperformance at a certain spot, Ward may get his shot.