Who Is Kwesi Adofo-Mensah? Meet The New Minnesota Vikings General Manager
The Minnesota Vikings have reportedly landed their replacement for Rick Spielman. ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter shared Wednesday morning that the team had reached an agreement with a candidate.
The Vikings had narrowed their search down to two finalists, but with one of the two candidates taking a job with another team, Minnesota's decision was made for them.
Minnesota had eyed Browns front office member Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Chiefs executive Ryan Poles. With Poles taking the open GM position for the in-division Chicago Bears on Tuesday, this left Adofo-Mensah as their sole finalist.
This was followed Wednesday by news that the Vikings and Adofo-Mensah had reached a deal to make him the new general manager.
The deal is reported to be worth $12 million, giving the 40 year old a 4-year initial contract to try his hand at the role of NFL general manager for the first time.
Adofo-Mensah is referred to by many as an NFL version of a "moneyball guy", leaning into stats and analytics in a way similar to what was made famous by Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics in Major League Baseball about 20 years ago.
Unlike Rick Spielman, who played college football and had family ties to the NFL before he became a team executive, Adofo-Mensah is an Ivy League-educated economics expert that has a different perspective on the game. While he never played, he has long been a fan of football. While he didn't play football, he was a walk-on basketball player during his time at Princeton.
Adofo-Mensah has a bachelors degree in economics from Princeton, and a master's degree in economics from Stanford. As mentioned previously, he has a strong background in analytics, starting his professional career as a day trader on Wall Street.
His start in the NFL came with the San Francisco 49ers as manager of football research and development in 2013. He served in that role until 2016, until he advanced to the role of director of football research and development for the 49ers from 2017 to 2019.
Following his stint with the 49ers, he was hired by the Cleveland Browns in 2020 as vice president of football operations. After two seasons in that role, Adofo-Mensah will advance to being the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings.
Advancing from vice president of football operations to a general manager isn't an uncommon advancement among NFL executives. What makes this hire more unique is the data-driven approach Adofo-Mensah is likely to bring to a league that has not yet embraced analytics at nearly the same level baseball has.
With the hiring of Adofo-Mensah, some pundits are suggesting it might sway the direction of the Vikings' head coaching search. One of the new general manager's first duties will be replacing Mike Zimmer, and while there is no specific evidence to point to this, there are some that think hiring Adofo-Mensah could favor one of the current head coaching candidates for the team.
With several years of experience with the 49ers, some suggest familiarity with current 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans could be a factor. Ryans joined the 49ers coaching staff in 2017, giving giving him a couple years of time working for the same team.
Going deeper into the rumor mill is another coach Adofo-Mensah has worked with before. There has been no formal discussion or interviews, but some think Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh might be plotting a return to the NFL. He has been in the college ranks, working at Michigan since 2015, but prior to that had been the head coach for the 49ers from 2011 to 2014.
Three of Harbaugh's four seasons saw deep playoff runs. Two seasons the team lost in the NFC Championship and the third season saw the team make it to the Super Bowl, only to be defeated by his brother's team.
Adofo-Mensah and Harbaugh worked together for two seasons at the beginning of Adofo-Mensah's NFL career. It's a stretch on a few levels, but it is a connection some fans are getting behind.
Regardless of the rumors, Adofo-Mensah's job is cut out for him. Between finding a new head coach, planning for the NFL Draft this spring, and navigating a difficult salary cap situation that the Vikings are in, he has a lot to figure out in the coming days and weeks in his new job.