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Minnesota Vikings News and Links, 2 March 2023

Combine Workouts Begin!

Georgia v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Vikings GM, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, spoke to the media yesterday and it was fantastic. I wish I could emulate Ted and do a Kwesispeak post but I cannot try and emulate Rickspeak. It would be a disservice.
Obviously from their side, they want it as certain as possible, and from our side, we want flexibility,” Adofo-Mensah said. “You’re always trying to be solutions-oriented and find a way that works for both people. … He has as much importance to this organization and maybe more than I do, so we all have to be on the same page and make sure that relationship works.”
“He’s an incredibly consistent passer,” Adofo-Mensah said at the podium. “I don’t think people realize it. Essentially, every play has a result built into it based on factors that he can’t control. I think what you know about Kirk, is when the odds are shifted in his favor, he gets the most out of it, right? And I think people don’t appreciate that skill enough. But he is incredibly consistent, an incredibly accurate thrower. Tough. Durable. He plays every game. He stands there and takes those hits when those throws are a little bit harder to come by. He’s an incredible player, really cerebral. He’s one of the first phone calls I made [when I got this job]. Just incredibly talented, smart, detailed. The level of detail of things we talked about was incredible. I’m excited to work with him.”
“We just talked generally about our vision for the team and what we want to accomplish,” Adofo-Mensah said. “Look, those conversations are ongoing and I can’t tell you anything at this moment, but we will communicate and we will do whatever’s best for the Minnesota Vikings and Kirk will do what’s best for Kirk. But I think there’s a lot of middle ground for us to work well together.”
“Ultimately, with all these things, you have options,” Adofo-Mensah said. “Just like they have options. And ultimately we’re trying to do the best thing for us. All these things are uncertain — how he’s going to play, what’s the market going to be, all these things, this puzzle. And ultimately you’re just trying to answer it not knowing today what’s going to happen. So I wish I could tell you for certain. Everything’s in play and I hate to be that general, but everything’s in play with every player.”
“To win at the highest level, it’s pretty hard to do it without good quarterback play,” Adofo-Mensah said. “So globally, that question needs to be answered. Now does it need to be answered this year versus the next five years? It’s trying to be smart about how you try to answer that question generally to sustain success in the NFL. But again, he’s under contract, Kirk’s our quarterback. He’s a really good player. I think he’s going to play at a high level for us given all the things Kevin wants to do with him, so we’re excited about that. We’re not doing more than that, we’re not doing less than that. That’s just where we’re trying to put a championship team around him that’s both sides of the ball and we’re excited about doing it.”
As an interesting, related note, Adofo-Mensah pushed back against the idea that this quarterback draft class is a weak one. He and other Vikings representatives spent time with some of the QBs on Monday and came away impressed.
“It’s funny, I just had a conversation with somebody about that,” he said. “I would probably go back and ask people what they thought about Mahomes and Watson’s class [in 2017]. I thought they said the same thing. You always want to be open minded. .... you’re just guessing. You’re predicting. We have information today and you watch a player and then you see in five years what they are like. Those things don’t always line up. People come through, they improve their mechanics, they get different coaching, they get in different schemes that fit their skillsets. I’m not going to sit here and stamp that this isn’t a great quarterback class because I see a lot of good stuff on film from these guys.
“Let’s go all the way numbers, let’s go full numbers,” Adofo-Mensah said. “So, we talk about necessary and sufficient conditions, right, in math. And so a necessary condition is having a starter-level quarterback, a quarterback of above a certain threshold. Now that doesn’t mean for sure you’re going to win, that’s not the only thing you need, but that is one of the things you need, right? So having a good-level quarterback is a necessary condition. Kirk meets that threshold, so we know that. OK, well now how do you build the rest of the team around him to make sure that you can win in that way? Different quarterbacks require different things around them, but we know that for sure, he meets that threshold.
“How long does he meet that threshold? Those are things we’ve got to answer. Is there a chance to add somebody maybe with different skill sets? Those are all questions we’ve got to answer, so there’s not one right way, but I do know one thing, I know he is good enough, he meets that first threshold, and that’s a question that a lot of people can’t answer with a yes, so we’ve got to make sure we treat that in the proper importance that it is.”
From their side, they want it as certain as possible, and from our side, we want flexibility,” Adofo-Mensah said. “You’re always trying to be solutions-oriented and find a way that works for both people.”
“When you talk about alignment between the head coach and GM, it’s that third part, I treat [the quarterback] on my level,” Adofo-Mensah said. “I don’t care if that makes me sound whatever, but [the quarterback] has as much importance to this organization and maybe more than I do, so we all have to be on the same page and make sure that relationship works.”
“If the solutions don’t work out for either side, that is what it is, but we love what we’ve done so far with him and we obviously want to continue it,” Adofo-Mensah said.

Wow! Kwesi can really spit it no? I sometimes have no clue what he is trying to say or not to say. Any interpretation could be correct at this point.

I will say that we know Kwesi was only given a 4 year contract. Other GMs were given longer and some I cannot find the contract length.

Nic Caserio got a 6 year deal
George Paton got a 6 year deal
Brian Gutekunst got a 5 year deal
Scott Fitterer got a 5 year deal
Brad Holmes got a 5 year deal

Kwesi’s window is not very long. If he extends Cousins then that is his hill to die on. It will define his career. He already has Cousins for half his contract. If he extends him then the expectations will remain high.

He will have to navigate the Cousins deal along with other high priced deals (JJ, Hunter, Hockenson, etc) while continuing to make the playoffs and actually winning a playoff game or more.

After reading his comments, I get the sense he really likes Cousins as his QB, wants to continue having him as his QB (regardless of his own contract), and wants to have flexibility. But he realizes that Cousins wants certainty. Does that mean a guaranteed contract? Does it mean a deal longer than two years (apparently a one year extension is not in the cards right now)?

If Cousins side is asking for 3 years with at least two guaranteed then his deal would run through 2026 which is longer than Kwesi’s deal. It also would take him to his age 38 season.
Since 2000, the only 35-plus QBs to lead teams to 11 or more wins since Rich Gannon did it at 37 in 2002 are Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. If you extend the sample size to 10 wins, you add Kurt Warner and Trent Green’s 2005 season.
Cousins’ peers Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford both ran into walls this season in their mid-30s. Matt Ryan went 4-12 in his age-35 season. Eli Manning was 3-12 by age 36.
A short-term deal might look more like Derek Carr’s 2021 extension, which went for three years $120 million with $65 million guaranteed. The structure allowed the Raiders, who are expected to trade Carr this offseason, to get out of the deal after one year with just a $5.6 million dead cap hit. Doing the same with Cousins would give them immediate cap relief, allow them to have their QB under contract if he continues to play at a high level and give them option to move on if he shows signs of aging.
Adding two or three years to Cousins’ deal could allow for a true “competitive rebuild,” in which the Vikings could put their focus on adding talent to the beleaguered defense. It would also provide stability for Jefferson and an opportunity to build on what they started with the passing offense in 2022.
The downside to a short-term deal is that Cousins would still take up a sizable portion of the salary cap. The lowest percentage he’s taken up since 2016 is 10.6% (per OverTheCap). Would that be enough to turn the tide?
The organization also has to consider the big picture: They have only come up with one playoff win in five years with this model, which makes running it back even in the short term questionable. It’s a safe route that has been used twice since 2020 and they are yet to advance to the divisional round despite strong play from Cousins.

This is likely to be Kwesi’s career defining decision. I think he was given sort of a short leash in terms of his contract length and probably the Wilfs did not want an immediate rebuild. Methinks that Ryan Poles balked at the contract length and the non ability to blow it up.

Gonna be a fun ride!

Since Our Last Open Thread...

Vikings ace their report card

Yore Mock

As usual, we need to make cap space and sign some free agents before the mock.


Cap Space: ($24,424,174)
Restructure Cousins: 7.5M of roster bonus: saves $5,000,000
Restructure Thielen: Base+bonuses down to $8,417,647: Saves $5,000,000
if cut, cap saving would be $6,417,647
Restructure H. Smith: Base+bonuses down to $10,600,000: Saves $5,000,000
if cut, cap saving would be $7,468,234
* these two restructures remove the remaining years which makes me think they would refuse


Restructure/extend Kendricks: 2 yr 12M: Saves $6,400,000
Restructure O’Neill: 12M of salary: Saves $9,000,000


Cut Hicks: Saves $5,000,000
Cut Ham: Saves $3,050,000
Cut Reed: Saves $2,500,000


Trade Z. Smith to Browns for 3.35: Saves $12,156,861
Trade Cook and 5.41 to Dolphins for 3.21: Saves $5,898,727


Cap Space: $34,203,767


Extend Hockenson 4 yr 58M: Saves $5,000,000
Extend Hunter 3 yr 66M: Costs $5,000,000
Extend Tomlinson 3 yr 42M: Costs $0
Cap Space: $34,203,767


Extend Jefferson 4 yr 130M: Costs $7,000,000
Extend Shelley 2 yr 10M: Costs $1,710,000
Extend DePaola 2 yr 2.875M: Costs $545,000
Extend Schlottmann 2 yr 4.5M: Costs $710,000
Extend Bradbury 3 yr 27M: Costs $2,210,000


Sign EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (27.8 years old) 3 yr 21M: Costs $2,710,000
Sign CB Marcus Peters (25.1 years old) 3 yr 33M: Costs $3,130,000


Remaining Cap Space: $16,188,767
2024 Cap Space: $44,368,680


2024 Cap hits
Jefferson $30,000,000
Hunter: $25,000,000
O’Neill: $22,689,111
Tomlinson: $16,500,000
Hockenson: $14,671,000
Peters: $12,000,000
Bradbury: $10,920,000
Kendricks: $7,850,000
Phillips: $8,833,334
Okoronkwo: $8,420,000
Shelley: $5,920,000
Darrisaw: $4,246,501


Dead Cap hits
Cousins: 17.5M
H Smith: $7,831,766
Thielen: $7,000,000


2024 Free Agents
Tonga (RFA)
Brandel (RFA)


There would still be plenty of cap space next year to re-sign the wonder boy and some others.

Trade Partner: Miami Dolphins
Sent: Dalvin Cook; Round 5 Pick 41
Received: Round 3 Pick 21
Trade Partner: Cleveland Browns
Sent: EDGE Za’Darius Smith
Received: Round 3 Pick 35
Trade Partner: Detroit Lions
Sent: Round 1 Pick 23; Future Round 2 Pick
Received: Round 1 Pick 18; Round 5 Pick 18
Trade Partner: Dallas Cowboys
Sent: Round 3 Pick 21
Received: Round 3 Pick 27; Round 5 Pick 27
Trade Partner: New England Patriots
Sent: Round 3 Pick 35
Received: Round 4 Pick 5; Round 6 Pick 7
Trade Partner: Kansas City Chiefs
Sent: Round 4 Pick 17
Received: Round 4 Pick 32; Round 5 Pick 32
Trade Partner: LA Rams
Sent: Round 5 Pick 32
Received: Round 6 Pick 12; Round 7 Pick 6

18: R1 P18 QB Will Levis - Kentucky 6’3” 232

87: R3 P24 WR Nathaniel Tank Dell - Houston 5’8.3” 163 30 1/8” arms

90: R3 P27 S J.L. Skinner - Boise State 6’4.2” 211 32 1/2” arms

107: R4 P5 CB Darius Rush - South Carolina 6’1.5” 196 32 3/4” arms

134: R4 P32 LB Dorian Williams - Tulane 6’0.6” 228 32 3/4” arms

154: R5 P18 EDGE Thomas Incoom - Central Michigan 6’2.2” 265 33” arms

160: R5 P24 RB Kenny McIntosh - Georgia 5’11.7 210 30 5/8” arms

163: R5 P27 DL Kobie Turner - Wake Forest 6’2.2” 288 32” arms

184: R6 P7 TE Cameron Latu - Alabama 6’4.2” 248 32” arms

189: R6 P12 C Ricky Stromberg - Arkansas 6’3.1” 315 33 1/8” arms

225: R7 P6 WR Justin Shorter - Florida 6’3.6” 224 33 3/4” arms

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