Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings’ Priority in a Trade

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
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Every Vikings fan knows that the team’s general manager enjoys pulling off a trade. Since taking over the top job, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has orchestrated 15 trades.

Despite having a roster that’s mostly set, the Vikings shouldn’t be counted out as a trading team. In fact, there’s good reason to believe Minnesota will again be active before the regular season arrives. With cap space and roster needs, the Vikings could very plausibly seek to beef up the roster by finding a team that’s interested in doing business.

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Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

A wild card in this scenario is the status of Danielle Hunter, someone who is rightly disappointed with his compensation. The talented edge rusher is the most likely to be moved as of June 22, 2023.

Flipping things around, though, introduces a different question. Who might the team be interested in adding? When we glean insight from Adofo-Mensah’s history of trading, do we get any clarity about what kind of player he likes to target?

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and the Art of the Trade

Back in January, Adofo-Mensah took on a question about his competitive rebuild philosophy. Does the GM favor one end of the catchphrase more than the other? Should there be more emphasis on competing in the short term or perhaps more emphasis on a future-oriented rebuild?

Responding to the question involved highlighting how tight end T.J. Hockenson blends each priority in the competitive rebuild:

I would say it still is both. Obviously I would say that. But if you think of a move like T.J. Hockenson, for example. I think that was a ‘today’ move but it’s also a really great ascending young player who played well for us this year, we have under contract next year, and with the ability to keep around for a long time […] So I would say that move, would say that it was both a competitive and a rebuild at the same time.

Blending the priorities – improving now and down the road – is the broader goal for the GM. Are there players like that still out there within the broader NFL?

Most certainly.

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Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo Mensah during the NFL combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Adofo-Mensah’s belief is that the Vikings are an upper-medium team. Not truly elite but certainly better than the basement dwellers picking at the very top of the NFL Draft.

During the same press conference, he compared the Vikings to a mid-level stock. He qualified that description by noting his desire to be a perpetual playoff participant. In other words, the expectation is to get into the final tournament even with the understanding that they’re not quite yet at the same level as some of the league’s marquee teams.

His belief about where Minnesota finds itself factors into how he approaches trades.

Again, think back to the deals he has pulled off. In four instances, the GM has shipped out draft capital to bring a player in. In three of those instances, the GM has brought a highly-picked player aboard who was still operating on his rookie contract. Snagging players who are young, on cost-controlled deals, and with potential for huge upside is what it’s all about.

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Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

And, as a refresher, these are the players we’re talking about:

  • Ross Blacklock
  • Jalen Reagor
  • T.J. Hockenson

The tight end has been an absolute slam dunk while the opening pair have mostly underwhelmed. Even still, the pattern is easy to see once we survey the trade trends from 30,000 feet.

One wonders, then, about players who fit the criteria as we march through the summer months. September isn’t too far away and the roster has a few positions that are still aching for improvement.

Names to remember include Isaiah Simmons (the 24-year-old LB for Arizona), Chase Young (the 24-year-old EDGE for Washington), and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (the 23-year-old LB for Cleveland) since they jump out as players who fit the mold. By no means an exhaustive list, all are young, on rookie deals, have high upside, and fill a position of need.

Keep an eye on Kwesi in the coming weeks and months.