The biggest story from yesterday’s press conference was the Vikings agreeing to terms on an extension with T.J. Hockenson. While the trade for Hockenson may be the most impactful move general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has made thus far, one thing that really stood out to me was Kwesi’s thoughts on the trades that didn’t pan out.
A reporter asked Kwesi: “When you trade for guys like Reagor and Blacklock and it does not work, how difficult is that decision from the standpoint that you did give up assets for those guys, and yet at the end of the day they get cut?
Here’s his response:
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah: You know, first and foremost, it’s difficult because you brought in two people. Ross is somebody I really enjoy getting to know. Same with Jalen. Those conversations are hard because they do everything you ask of them and it might not work out for them. It’s a tough outcome, but ultimately we’re going to keep taking risks in this organization. Every pick you make is a decision that has outcomes that potentially could happen. It’s a portfolio in a sense, and you’ve got to you’ve got to measure the portfolio in the end. But when we go into these decisions, we know that. We don’t think we have every answer figured out, but we’re aligned in what we think the player can do, and we’re going to see how that’s going to work out over the long haul. But, you know, you can’t ever sweat one decision because it doesn’t work because you have to look at it in a portfolio sense. And we like a lot of the moves we’ve made. And ultimately not everyone is going to work out perfectly, though.
For context, last year the Vikings sent a conditional 2024 4th-round pick that ended up becoming a 5th-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles, along with a 2023 7th-round pick to acquire WR Jalen Reagor. The Vikings also traded a 2023 6th-round pick to acquire Ross Blacklock and a 2023 7th-round pick. Essentially, Kwesi traded away a fifth-rounder and a sixth-rounder for two players who are no longer on the roster.
Is it the end of the world that the Vikings gave up two Day 3 picks for two high-upside depth guys who didn’t last more than a year on the team? Not really. That being said, I think it’s poor asset management to invest draft picks in players who didn’t pan out with their original teams if the team isn’t willing to invest a significant amount of time and energy into their development.
What sucks is that Jalen Reagor was misused by Philadelphia and the Vikings could’ve capitalized on that, yet Reagor ended up being cut despite a strong showing in training camp and the preseason. I thought Reagor was finally starting to turn the corner and was gaining some confidence late, which makes me think that Kwesi’s experiment with Reagor could've worked if they had given him a little more time.
Instead, the Vikings opted to keep six safeties with Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum, and Josh Metellus getting the majority of snaps, while Lewis Cine and Jay Ward are fighting for playing time on special teams and sub-packages. I’m still not convinced that the Vikings needed to keep Theo Jackson on the 53-man roster. I feel like the team could’ve sneaked him onto the practice squad, while keeping Reagor on the roster. If Kwesi’s plan was to waive Reagor in hopes of a team claiming him and taking on his salary, then he failed miserably. Reagor ended up clearing waivers and signed with the Patriots practice squad, which leaves the Vikings on the hook paying for most of his contract.
It’s frusturating seeing Kwesi invest draft capital into these highly voliatle young players, only for him not to give these players enough time to develop. Either he needs to stop trading for high pedigree players who didn’t pan out, or he needs to take player development more seriously.