Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Isn’t Going to Budge

Vikings Had the Worst Draft
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Over and over again, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has proven to be a tough negotiator. The GM has a vision and is willing to pursue it even if the decisions end up being controversial.

Take, for instance, a relatively recent example: the T.J. Hockenson extension. Making a trade for a star player from within the division means an extension is nearly mandatory. After all, Adofo-Mensah would look pretty foolish if he traded away draft capital to only get 1.5 seasons out of a player. The pressure to get a deal done, though, didn’t lead to a swift resolution.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Instead, the super talented tight end had to wait until late August to get a new deal done. There was even some speculation about an ear-infection-induced hold-in (never a dull moment covering the Vikings). Part of what made the agreement notable was the subtle hint that Adofo-Mensah didn’t adjust his offer by too much to get things across the finish line.

Take a look at the word from The NFL Network‘s Tom Pelissero: “This is pretty close to the deal that was on the table before training camp started in July. Roughly a month later, with the clock running out for Hockenson to be ready for Week 1, the sides agreed and the #Vikings have TE1 locked in for the long haul.”

Apparently, the GM didn’t let the end of the summer move him into a contract where he wasn’t comfortable. Instead, the two sides found common ground on a deal that was “pretty close” to what was available since “before training camp.”

In Negotiations, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is Unlikely to Budge

Almost always, the head coach and general manager are sincere. Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah have publicly said they want Kirk Cousins to come back. We should believe them.

What’s notable, though, is that each one is comfortable with losing the QB if the situation reaches a crisis point.

O’Connell even said recently that Cousins deserves the chance to get into free agency to see what’s available. No need to get flustered or lose poise; instead, there’s just the simple acceptance of twin facts: an ongoing desire for Cousins to return and an unwillingness to go to a number that the front office thinks is unwise. Legal tampering will thus be used by Minnesota as an extra data point to understand how high the deal needs to go to keep their QB1 in town.

Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on during mandatory mini camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk came to a similar conclusion.

“The Vikings have, by all appearances, decided they want to keep Cousins,” Flores notes, “but only at their price. They seem to think he won’t get a better offer elsewhere. If he does, they seem to be content to let him go.”

Precisely. The Vikings genuinely want Cousins to stick around. But, crucially, it must come “at their price.” In the end, a team like the Falcons or Steelers may make an offer that Cousins can’t refuse, but the Vikings don’t seem too troubled by that possibility.

Now, that doesn’t mean Adofo-Mensah is too stubborn. He has often spoken about how negotiations are about finding a middle ground as each side looks to arrive at a mutually-beneficial common ground. However, it’s also clear that he has a firm idea about how high is too high and is very willing to say “no” (a small but tremendously powerful word when negotiating).

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) sounds the gjallarhorn before the game against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Consider what Minnesota’s Senior VP of Player Personnel Ryan Grigson recently had to say. Per Grigson, the Vikings have been hard at work marching through all kinds of offseason scenarios — “If X happens, what will Y look like? That’s something that has been really good to see” — in preparation for what’s the come in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Grigson then explains that the team’s leadership has “communicated and talked so much about so many different angles that I think we’ll be prepared at a moment’s notice.”

NFL: Combine
Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Envision a scenario where Kirk Cousins waltzes into free agency and gets a budget-busting offer from a rival team. If the Vikings’ GM, HC, and every other decision maker thought that outcome would be a disaster, would they be slow playing things as much? Wouldn’t they be making every effort to get a deal done now so that they could avoid doomsday?

Folks, the inaction says quite a bit.

Vikings Get a Decent Grade
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Genuinely, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wants Kirk Cousins to keep being Minnesota’s QB. The GM won’t back down from his convictions, though. He has certain numbers in mind when it comes to dollars, years, and guarantees.

Cousins, of course, is no slouch when it comes to negotiating deals. He’s a very good quarterback and an elite negotiator. The man knows how to make money. The current deadlock thus points toward a situation where the resolution will only arrive next week.

Legal tampering begins on Monday, March 11th at 12 ET.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.