What We Learned No. 7
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah isn't perfect, and that's okay
In his second year ever as an NFL general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has made some puzzling decisions during the last few months.
Instead of just releasing Za'Darius Smith to clear cap space earlier this year, Adofo-Mensah sat on his hands until he was able to get something in return for the veteran pass rusher. But in order to get something in return, the Vikings general manager had to give up some of his team's own draft assets and pay a portion of Smith's 2023 salary as well.
It felt like Adofo-Mensah did something similar with Dalvin Cook this offseason too. Minnesota re-signed running back Alexander Mattison as soon as free agency began in March, and that was an immediate sign that the team was likely moving on from Cook this year.
But instead of figuring out a way to part with Cook for whatever they could get before the start of the 2023 NFL Draft, Adofo-Mensah wasn't able to work out any sort of trade involving the running back, and Minnesota wound up getting nothing by letting Cook walk out the door.
The Vikings general manager did make some intriguing additions in free agency this year in cornerback Byron Murphy and pass rusher Marcus Davenport, and some members of the team's 2023 draft class have a chance to make an immediate impact. But Adofo-Mensah is still learning on the job, and sometimes it's pretty obvious.
What We Learned No. 8
Tough goodbyes were had, but necessary
Since March, Minnesota has released some of the best players to ever suit up in a purple and gold jersey, including Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, and Dalvin Cook. In addition to these notable contributors, the Vikings also moved on from guys like Patrick Peterson, Za'Darius Smith, and Dalvin Tomlinson.
From the outside, some have viewed these departures as a sign that Minnesota is in rebuild mode. But the majority of the players the Vikings parted with this year are near the end of their careers in the NFL, and the cost of keeping them was no longer worth the investment.
Instead, the Vikings have elected to replace these veteran players with younger and cheaper options while still building a roster around high-level talents like Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Christian Darrisaw.