New Minnesota Vikings’ GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had some serious issues to deal with concerning the team’s salary cap that needed to be addressed immediately after he was hired. Whether you liked, or even agreed with, the decisions that he made, at least one outlet has pointed out that the moves made a lot of sense and don’t really appear to hamstring the team in the long term.
Pro Football Focus has put together their three-year salary cap analysis for all of the NFL teams, and appears to have come to the conclusion that Adofo-Mensah handled the team’s situation about as well as he could have given the circumstances.
A new regime in Minnesota largely maintained the status quo this offseason, but to their credit, the Vikings didn’t do anything to jeopardize their ability to revamp this roster long-term. A complete teardown was sought by many, and still may prove to have been the better approach, but with a weak NFC North and NFC at large, it shouldn’t come as a total surprise that they elected to take at least one more shot with this nucleus of players.
Most importantly, Kirk Cousins‘ one-year extension was effectively just proactively franchise-tagging a player who cannot realistically be franchise-tagged again in his career after receiving two tags from the Washington Commanders. Cousins’ one-year, $35 million extension leaves the door open for a trade after the 2022 season if Minnesota elects to finally move on and start fresh.
For the ABC crowd. . .Anybody But Cousins. . .this was probably a bit of a difficult pill to swallow, but the one-year extension was probably the right move for the team to make with the way things are constructed right now. It lowered Cousins’ cap hit for this year and allowed them to spread his future cap hits out a little more so that it wouldn’t hamstring them if/when they want to move on.
That and, honestly, what was the alternative? It doesn’t really matter because Kevin O’Connell apparently made it clear to the brass that having Cousins behind center was what was best for the team at the present time. (Because the alternatives were all much worse.) The team will have Cousins behind center this season and, in all likelihood, in 2023, and if the team feels they want to move on they can take advantage of a loaded 2023 quarterback class in the upcoming NFL Draft and hand the reins over in 2024.
PFF also addressed the Danielle Hunter situation, which was the other big hurdle the new front office needed to clear.
New general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was left with one of the more difficult decisions a new decision-maker can possibly face, as edge defender Danielle Hunter‘s $18 million roster bonus was due just a few days into the 2022 league year after injuries derailed his second consecutive season. Hunter will still be just 28 years old after the upcoming season, and there were no good alternatives available besides restructuring the bonus and kicking the cap hits down the road. A trade would have returned poor value, and finding a middle ground on an extension would have been very difficult.
While many of us, myself included, thought that the Vikings might be able to get a decent deal in return in a Danielle Hunter trade, the reality is that nobody was going to give up a Khalil Mack-style deal for a guy that’s missed 26 of his team’s last 33 games because of injury issues. For a guy that can provide the kind of impact that Hunter can have when he’s healthy, that’s the sort of return you need if you’re going to ship him out, and the Vikings weren’t going to get it. So, Hunter essentially gets another “prove it” year and can once again set himself up for a lucrative contract if he stays healthy because he’s still a younger edge defender.
The Vikings can still have a very promising future despite the fact that they didn’t opt for the full “blow everything up and start again” approach to start the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah/Kevin O’Connell era. If the team can adapt quickly to the new schemes and the fresh faces on the sidelines and in the front office, this team can certainly be in contention going forward.