Former NFL GM Blown Away by Vikings’ Evaluation Skills and Adaptability Early in Free Agency

kwesi adofo-mensah minnesota vikings
An image from Aug 1, 2023 of Training Camp practice held at TCOPC in Eagan, MN.

Let Kwesi cook? It turns out that when Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a bit of cap space to work with, he’s willing to go out and find a lot of different players to try and fit his coaching staff and whatever scheme they’re trying to deploy.

We’re only seeing what he’s done in free agency so far, but the Minnesota Vikings lost a lot of pieces, meaning there were a ton of holes to fill. Here are all the players that have come and gone so far this offseason.

Pos2023 StarterReplacement
QBKirk CousinsSam Darnold
RB Alexander MattisonAaron Jones
WR K.J. OsbornTrent Sherfield
G Dalton RisnerTBD
DT Khyiris TongaJerry Tillery
EDGE Danielle HunterJonathan Greenard
EDGE Marcus Davenport/D.J. WonnumAndrew Van Ginkel
MLB Jordan HicksBlake Cashman
K Greg JosephJohn Parker Romo

Aside from Aaron Jones, the roster has not added Danielle Hunter or Kirk Cousins-level talent. But there are plenty of good fits for Brian Flores’ scheme, such as Greenard, Van Ginkel, and Cashman. Even though he’s not the Vikings’ endgame target at QB, it’s also possible that former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold has some untapped potential.

Former NFL GM loves Minnesota Vikings’ offseason

The Vikings aren’t done. If a contract with Risner can’t be worked out, there’s still a hole at offensive guard. The defensive line needs more work, but that’s nothing new. And there still aren’t enough proven cornerbacks on the roster.

Yet, considering all the changes that had to be made, the Vikings’ roster isn’t in bad shape, especially since we haven’t even gotten to the NFL Draft yet. And so far, the Vikings have drawn mostly high praise for the moving and shaking they’ve done. One advocate of their offseason so far is former Saints and Dolphins general manager Randy Mueller, who now works for The Athletic.

Best on-the-move pivot: Minnesota Vikings

“Losing four front-seven players from your roster could be devastating for many teams. Vikings edge players Danielle Hunter, D.J. Wonnum and Marcus Davenport and linebacker Jordan Hicks all left for various deals elsewhere.

But Minnesota had a plan, replacing them with Jonathan Greenard (two years younger than Hunter), Andrew Van Ginkel (young, ascending player) and Blake Cashman, whose football IQ, range and ability to slip blocks make him a three-down inside linebacker and an upgrade over Hicks. That trio gives the Vikings a better package on defense moving forward than what walked out the door. Sometimes plans have to be fluid, and the Vikings’ decision-makers made me a believer in their evaluation skills, which I’d had some doubt about previously.

I also like the pivot to Sam Darnold for $10 million on a one-year deal while letting Kirk Cousins leave for $45 million per year over four years in Atlanta. The money saved can still be put to use by upgrading their third wide receiver spot and extending wideout Justin Jefferson.”

Former NFL GM Randy Mueller on Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s work as Vikings GM

Did you read that? “[Greenard, Van Ginkel, and Cashman] give the Vikings a better package on defense moving forward than what walked out the door.” That’s quite the statement from a former NFL GM, given what walked out the door was all three starting EDGE rushers in Hunter, Davenport and Cashman, not to mention a starting middle linebacker, in Jordan Hicks.

Related: Which Teams are Most Likely to Steal the Vikings’ Top QB Target in NFL Draft?

That one might shock some Vikings fans. It’s true that KAM hasn’t always made the best decisions on draft day, but if he can press the right buttons in free agency and hit on their QB of the future in the draft, as Mueller believes they can, then the Vikings’ future may be a lot brighter than pessimists believed, after Kirk Cousins left.

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