Vikings

What Was On Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's Offseason List To Fix the Vikings?

Photo Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

After signing Justin Jefferson, the Minnesota Vikings’ offseason unofficially ended. To fans, this offseason was stuffed into a three-month window filled with speculation and decisions that could shape the franchise. But for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the 2024 offseason began long before Kirk Cousins hit free agency.

Purple Insider’s Matthew Coller and The Athletic’s Alec Lewis mentioned on a recent episode of the Purple Insider podcast that Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell made a list of things they wanted to do when they arrived in Minnesota. While it’s likely not as long as Chris Jericho’s “Man of 1,004 Holds” list, it had to include several objectives during the 2024 season.

So, what was on that list? And did the Vikings cross enough items off to execute Adofo-Mensah’s ultimate plan?

That’s where things get fun.

One of their top priorities had to be finding a quarterback of the future. When the new regime arrived in 2022, they decided to stick with Cousins for a few seasons to see if they could unlock a new level in his game.

In many regards, this was a success. Cousins took leadership of the team, executed eight fourth-quarter comebacks in O’Connell’s first season in Minnesota, and won the NFC North for the first time since 2017. While the season ended with an unfortunate playoff loss to the New York Giants at home, the on-field portion was largely a success.

But now it was time for the ultimate challenge for the Vikings GM.

While Cousins was a fringe top-10 quarterback on the field, he’s the final boss at the negotiating table. The thought of a multi-year, fully guaranteed extension seemed like a possibility in the spring of 2023. Instead, the Vikings shoved money into a void year at the end of his contract and had Cousins play out the final year of his deal.

The Vikings weathered the storm of “Contract Year Kirk,” who put up massive numbers but only guided the team to a .500 record before tearing his Achilles in October. The lasting memories of an upset victory over the San Francisco 49ers and dismantling the Green Bay Packers poured gas on the Bring Cousins Back fire, but none of this was part of the plan.

Minnesota had eyes on the 2024 quarterback class and was only willing to bring Cousins back at the right price. When Minnesota opted for a “year-to-year” plan, Cousins opted for long-term security, signing a four-year, $180 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

While Cousins may not have believed it, there was a universe where he could have returned to Minnesota. Cousins could have signed a short-term deal, and the Vikings still could have selected J.J. McCarthy. However, such a deal would have also cost them north of $40 million and hindered their ability to make moves in free agency.

Ultimately, the Vikings signed Sam Darnold for $35 million less than they would have paid Cousins and used that money to upgrade their edge rushing group in free agency. They lost Danielle Hunter but added Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Blake Cashman and pocketed the savings to go wild in 2025.

Clearing the cap may have been another item on Adofo-Mensah’s list. When he arrived, the Vikings were in salary cap hell, and they leaned on Rob Brzezinski to be the Simone Biles of financial gymnastics.

Adofo-Mensah’s plan to clean up the cap was a multi-year process. It began after the 2022 season when the Vikings released Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, and Dalvin Cook. It continued when Patrick Peterson and Dalvin Tomlinson left in free agency and hit another gear when Cousins and Hunter departed in 2023.

The thought was that losing these veterans would weaken the Vikings in the short term but set them up for future success. Minnesota is third in the league with $57.3 million in dead money for next season, but most of that will come off the books this fall. When the Vikings hit the market next spring, they’ll have $54.5 million in cap space and $122 million for 2026.

That gives Minnesota freedom they haven’t had since Cousins was playing for the Washington Commanders. With a young core in place, the Vikings can sign free agents to fill the holes and catapult themselves into a Super Bowl contention window over the next two seasons.

With two objectives cleared, the Vikings had one final task on Adofo-Mensah’s list: lock up the foundational pieces.

Jefferson’s contract was the final piece to a successful offseason for the Vikings. His first three campaigns were so good the Vikings went to the negotiating table one year early but offered a slightly lower deal at $28 million per season.

However, Jefferson’s price tag went up after recording a fourth-straight 1,000-yard season while battling a hamstring injury and catching passes from Nick Mullens, Joshua Dobbs, and Jaren Hall, and the rumors started to swirl. While TikTok creators and media outlets tried to will a trade into existence, Adofo-Mensah continued to praise Jefferson and his desire to get a deal done.

Eventually, putting Malik Nabers on the Vikings was something only possible in Madden, and Jefferson signed a contract that made him the richest wide receiver in NFL history. It was a crowning achievement that made Adofo-Mensah feel like a proud father who admired his work and cracked a beer after crossing “MOW THE LAWN” off his honey-do list.

In many ways, Minnesota’s current state is like executing the perfect crossing pattern in the backyard. Adofo-Mensah found his quarterback of the future, cleared up the salary cap problems, and extended one of the foundational pieces of his franchise. All three things were crucial to Minnesota’s long-term success and made this offseason a victory before the Vikings played a single snap in 2024.

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