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Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah shows willingness to make necessary changes to roster

At 32, Patrick Peterson had a resurgent 2022 season with the Vikings. He has been open about his desire to stay with the team for his 13th NFL season; it seemed possible, entering free agency, that the eight-time Pro Bowl player could return to Minnesota for 2023.

And on Monday, after agreeing to a two-year, $14 million deal with the Steelers, Peterson had nothing but kind things to say about negotiations with the Vikings that ultimately ended without a contract.

“Everything was clean, good, grown-up stuff, the way it’s supposed to be,” Peterson said on his “All Things Covered” podcast. “There were no curve balls. It was how it was supposed to be, and I can’t do anything but enjoy it.”

Peterson’s podcast made him the first deceased Vikings player to speak at length about the process by which the team emerges from an unexpected 13-win season. To hear Peterson tell it, his talks with the Vikings were the kind of pleasant talks general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said he wanted to have with decorated veteran players whose time in Minnesota might be coming to an end. To see how the Vikings have acted over the past two weeks, it’s clear that while sentiment may grace the farewell, it won’t delay it.

On March 6, the Vikings released Eric Kendricks, praising former All-Pro and Walter Payton linebacker Man of the Year performance and service, while saving $9.5 million on a 31-year-old who had struggled to cover passes last year.

They praised the unlikely story of Adam Thielen and his unique place in Minnesota sports history on March 10, while absorbing $13.55 million in dead money on the 32-year-old wide receiver’s contract instead. than defer costs longer.

Rather than keep Peterson on the kind of deal he received from the Steelers – which essentially amounted to a one-year deal with unsecured money for 2024 – they came to the same kind of sensible pact with Byron. Murphy Jr., the 25-year-old former Cardinals corner who was once mentored by Peterson and might be more suited to new defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ man coverage plans than Peterson is at this stage of his career.

Pragmatism governed the discussions of the Vikings even with the veterans they kept. They clawed back $6.7 million in salary cap space in a restructured deal with Harrison Smith, while betting the 34-year-old safety will be a better fit for Flores’ plan than he was when the former coordinator Ed Donatell sanded off most of the variety from the role he had enjoyed under Mike Zimmer. They guaranteed inside linebacker Jordan Hicks’ base salary for this year while reducing the 30-year-old’s cap by $1.5 million. And instead of finalizing a long-term extension with quarterback Kirk Cousins, they added two more empty years to his deal to get cap relief while retaining the flexibility Adofo-Mensah said he wants at the job. QB.

“It will always be solutions-oriented,” Adofo-Mensah said Feb. 28. “Can we find a way to work together in our time horizon? If not, we may not be together, but hopefully three, four years later, we can laugh and enjoy of those times we had together, appreciating them and knowing that sometimes cases happen and there are different solutions that need to be found.”

The Vikings’ approach in Adofo-Mensah’s second offseason contrasts with the one they used during Rick Spielman’s later years, when the Vikings kept off-ball linebackers like Anthony Barr and tight ends like Kyle Rudolph to premium cap numbers while trying to win with an aging roster. The previous regime, for its old-school virtues, sometimes seemed reluctant to part ways with players. If Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell’s focus on player culture and empowerment invites a narrative that two are too hospitable, the results show they weren’t afraid to quickly make tough decisions about coaches (like Donatell) or players.

“It will be exhausting. It will be difficult,” Adofo-Mensah said during the combine. “That’s why we get paid what we get paid, because I won’t always be the most liked person in the room. It’s just kind of a job. I like to be liked, though, so if please don’t let this go wrong. These are tough decisions, great people, great humans. We have these conversations going on right now and we’ll see what we find.

The Vikings’ biggest decision at quarterback is yet to come, after opting for zero years on Cousins’ deal instead of the long-term guarantees he wanted. The 34-year-old is now expected to become a free agent after the season. It’s possible that the Vikings and Cousins ​​will reconnect for a new contract at this point, particularly if the Cousins ​​find the team the best option after gauging interest from across the league.

Adofo-Mensah said during the combine that he doesn’t want to force a quarterback to act as a rookie. If the Vikings wait until 2024 to sign a passer and don’t bring Cousins ​​back next season, they could opt for a veteran bridge starter while their next QB prepares. They will have cousins ​​for 2023; if the durable starter’s sixth season at Minnesota is his last, the Vikings will return, at least briefly, to a period of uncertainty at the position. For now, they seem willing to take the risk, instead of making a deal that could have provided guaranteed money until 2025, like Derek Carr’s contract with the Saints did.

Risk assessment was part of Adofo-Mensah’s job on Wall Street; it is central to his work with the Vikings. But after a week that brought a lot of change to Minnesota, it’s clear that while the GM wants to handle it thoughtfully, he’s not trying to avoid it.

startribune Gt Itly

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