Since joining the Vikings back in January, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has made several significant moves. When looking back and grading these decisions, it’s easy to see why the owners, Zygi and Mark Wilf, hired him.
Grading Kwesi-Adofo Mensah’s Pre-Draft Moves
Hiring Kevin O’Connell as Head Coach – Grade: A-
When Jim Harbaugh decided to return to Michigan instead of becoming the Vikings HC, many fans were disappointed. But, Kevin O’Connell has brought a fresh approach to the game that the Vikings desperately needed.
O’Connell fits the mold of the new prototypical head coach in the NFL. He’s both young and offensive-minded, traits that have become coveted in the NFL in recent years. He will excel in the areas where former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer seemingly lacked. Specifically, the relationship that he will build with QB Kirk Cousins.
As a former NFL QB, O’Connell has emphasized the importance of working with Kirk Cousins to make sure they are on the same page. Something Mike Zimmer consistently avoided during his four seasons with Cousins. He served as Cousins’s QB coach in Washington during the 2017 season, so they already have a head start on their relationship.
Oh, and by the way, he just won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams as their offensive coordinator.
Extending Kirk Cousins – Grade: B+
After the hiring of Kevin O’Connell, it became hard to imagine a world where the Vikings would move on from Kirk Cousins. Meaning that nobody was surprised when Cousins inked a one-year extension to stay in purple until the end of the 2023-24 season.
However, the most important aspect of this extension is that it allowed the Vikings to lower Cousins’ 2022 cap hit from a towering $45 million back down to a far more manageable $31.25 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
This move freed up space for Adofo-Mensah to make moves in free agency while also retaining one of the league’s most statistically prolific QBs over the past five seasons.This extension was certainly a win-win for both Kirk Cousins and the Vikings front office, who both vocalized that they wanted to work together for the 2022 season.
The one kicker to this contract that has sparked some conversation is the “no-trade clause.” Meaning that the Vikings cannot trade Kirk Cousins unless he approves the trade himself. A stipulation that many fans dislike.
Landing Za’Darius Smith in Free Agency – Grade: A
Za’Darius Smith is the largest outside free agent signing the Vikings have had since Kirk Cousins in 2018. His three-year, $42 million contract may appear daunting at first. However, it is a very team-friendly deal when you pull back the curtain.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah structured this deal so that Smith, who missed the entirety of the 2021 season with a back injury, will have to stay healthy to earn his payday.
The deal is essentially a simple one-year contract worth $9.5 million because no money is guaranteed past the 2022 season. And, if the Vikings were inclined, they could retain Smith for the 2023 season for $12.5 million. Which would take his two-year total to $22 million, per Spotrac.
However, the third year in this contract is simply a facade. It’s worth $20 million, but none of it is guaranteed. It is simply there so that his agent can make his deal look bigger than it truly is, and Smith will likely never see that money, per Mike Florio.
Overall, Adofo-Mensah structured this contract beautifully. If Smith stays healthy and returns to form, it will look like a bargain. But if he can’t stay healthy, the Vikings can dump him after only one relatively cheap year.
Overall Grade for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah: A-
Every move Adofo-Mensah has made this offseason proves that he wants to field a competitive team in 2022. Additionally, each move has been strategic and well thought out. However, until this franchise hoists the Lombardi trophy, Adofo-Mensah can not earn an A+.
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