The first Vikings general manager search in 16 years put team leaders in interviews with a wider range of candidates than perhaps at any point in the club’s history.
The winning candidate took a road to GM’s office like few in the NFL.
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Browns’ vice president of football operations – a 40-year-old with a degree in economics from Princeton and Stanford and eight years’ experience on Wall Street before nine in the NFL – was hired as the Vikings’ new GM on Wednesday, in the first step of a process that can reshape the team’s football operations in the coming years.
Adofo-Mensah was the Vikings ‘first GM candidate to get another interview for the job when he arrived in the Twin Cities on Tuesday for a day of meetings at the team’s facility and dinner with several members of the Vikings’ search committee. The team hired him Wednesday morning, reportedly giving him a $ 12 million four-year deal.
“Kwesi has a clear philosophy of building a complementary football team,” Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said in a statement. “His intelligence, progressive mindset and passion for the game, along with his ability to make thoughtful and conscious decisions, provide a huge foundation when leading our football operations.”
Adofo-Mensah will lead Viking’s head coach search, which has already included virtual interviews with eight playoff team coordinators and figures to be picked up now that a GM is in place. The Vikings’ current scouting loss remains under contract and is expected to remain intact until further notice as the team begins NFL draft preparations.
“I am extremely grateful to the Wilf family and the Vikings organization for giving me the opportunity to lead our football operations and join this respected franchise,” Adofo-Mensah said in a statement. “There is so much to appreciate about this organization: an existing core of talent on the list, first-class facilities, passionate fans and smart people throughout the building who are committed to winning. I look forward to working with our next head coach and the whole our football operations staff to begin our work of bringing a Super Bowl to Vikings fans. “
With Adofo-Mensah as head of the football department, however, there will be a different approach than with Rick Spielman at the helm.
The Vikings began their GM search by saying they were open to a wide range of possibilities and conducted interviews with eight candidates ranging from longtime scouts like Titans’ Monti Ossenfort and Buccaneers’ John Spytek to Eagles’ Catherine Raîche, a former lawyer , who had worked in the CFL and XFL before becoming the first woman to interview for an NFL GM job when she spoke to the Vikings.
They completed the first round of the process with two finalists from very different backgrounds: Adofo-Mensah and Ryan Poles, Chiefs’ Chief of Staff, a former college offensive lineman who had been the team’s college scouting director when it drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round of the 2017 draft.
Both had impressed the Vikings in their introductory interviews, and the Vikings lined up for other interviews with Adofo-Mensah on Tuesday and Poles on Wednesday. But Poles, who had been the finalist for the Giants ‘GM job, were the top candidate for the Bears’ opening, and sources said Chicago gave him a strong offer up for his second interview with the Bears on Tuesday.
It was a move that was definitely enough for the Poles to accept the Bears job on Tuesday and cancel his interview with the Vikings on Wednesday. Adofo-Mensah, who had already been in town for his interview, became the sole finalist.
Like Andrew Miller, the Vikings’ operations manager who led the team’s GM search, Adofo-Mensah came to the front office of a professional team after a time on Wall Street. He had begun taking on some scout assignments for Brown’s GM Andrew Berry (himself a Harvard graduate) when Cleveland built a front office full of executives with economics degrees.
He will make a number of important decisions in his first months with the team. The Vikings need to clear about $ 13 million of cap space before the start of the league year in March, and may face a choice to keep or swap quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is guaranteed to earn $ 35 million in the final year of his contract. . Cousins is one of nine veterans accounting for more than $ 150 million against the Vikings ‘2022 ceiling, so many of the Vikings’ top picks before the 2022 season will involve their most established players.
As Adofo-Mensah transforms the Vikings’ list, the new GM’s decision-making process has been influenced by what he learned before joining the NFL.
“I would say that all my life, and not just my professional life, I have been really passionate about decision-making under uncertainty,” he said at a news conference with Cleveland reporters after Brown hired him in 2020. “I think That Wall Street and my merchandising background is a reflection of it.I think my graduate school in economics is a reflection of it.I think playing basketball is a reflection of it.What attracts people to sports from an academic environment, is that you get a chance to apply some of these academic principles and the things that happen a little unconsciously on the court or on the court.
“In a sense, some people see it as very different, but I do not see it as very different in my ability to gather information to make a bet about the direction of the market compared to gathering information to bet on the direction. of an NFL player. I think those are similar processes. “
With Adofo-Mensah in place, the Vikings will quickly turn their attention to finding Mike Zimmer’s replacement as head coach. They have conducted initial interviews with eight coaches – Packers’ Nathaniel Hackett, Cowboys’ Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn, Rams’ Raheem Morris and Kevin O’Connell, Eagles’ Jonathan Gannon, Buccaneers’ Todd Bowles and 49ers. ‘DeMeco Ryans – but had planned to hire a GM first so that this person could influence the choice of the next head coach. Coaches who are still in the NFL playoffs, such as Morris, O’Connell and Ryan, can only be interviewed again next week.
Adofo-Mensah worked with both Ryan and O’Connell in San Francisco and reportedly has a relationship with Hackett, who trained at Stanford several years before Adofo-Mensah studied there. After the Vikings fired Zimmer and Spielman on Jan. 10, co-owner Mark Wilf spoke about the team’s desire for strong leaders, collaborators and communicators; Sources have said that the coaching candidates who interviewed the Vikings stuck to the team because of charismatic personalities.
Sources said the Vikings could also consider hiring an assistant general manager to work with Adofo-Mensah. Raiche, who had an impressive first interview with the Vikings, could be a candidate for such a role.