The first two days of the Vikings' general manager and coaching searches have played out relatively quietly, with executive vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski, chief operating officer Andrew Miller and co-directors of player personnel Ryan Monnens and Jamaal Stephenson huddling with team ownership to form a list of candidates.
But there were signs things were starting to pick up as of Wednesday evening.
The Vikings requested interviews with Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Browns vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook, Patriots personnel consultant Eliot Wolf and Buccaneers vice president of player personnel John Spytek, according to a source with knowledge of the team's plans. People with knowledge of the GM and coaching searches around the league pointed to four other candidates — Eagles player personnel director Brandon Brown, Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds, Seahawks VP of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Cowboys VP of player personnel Will McClay — as names to watch for the GM job.
If the Vikings look at anyone for the job internally, Brzezinski, Stephenson and Monnens could all get chances to make their case.
Adofo-Mensah, a Princeton graduate with a master's degree in economics from Stanford, came to the NFL from Wall Street, and succeeded Wolf (the son of Ron Wolf, Hall of Famer and former GM from the Packers) in Cleveland.
Cook, who started as a scout with the Colts and Packers, rose quickly through the Browns' organization, going from assistant director of pro scouting to VP of player personnel last year. A source who'd worked with Cook called him "a quiet, respectful hard worker with a good eye for talent."
Spytek has been with the Buccaneers for 18 years, serving as general manager Jason Licht's right-hand man for a team that won the Super Bowl last year. He oversees both the college and pro scouting departments for Tampa Bay.
Dodds interviewed with the Panthers and Lions for their general manager jobs last year, after declining to talk with the Browns in 2020. Kirchner, who played football at St. John's with Monnens, interviewed with the Texans last year after previously talking with the Jets, Colts and 49ers.
Brown played safety with the Colts before getting his law degree and joining the Eagles in 2017, the season they won Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The fact the Vikings are hiring a GM first means they'll be a little behind some other teams in interviewing head coaching candidates, but sources on Wednesday said there's so much interest in the job, the Vikings might have some leverage.
Thanks to the talent on the roster — 27-year-old defensive end Danielle Hunter, 26-year-old running back Dalvin Cook and, perhaps most notably, 22-year-old wide receiver Justin Jefferson — as well as a patient ownership group and state-of-the-art facilities, the Vikings' coaching job could be seen the most desirable among the seven possible openings.
The team's cap situation will require Brzezinski's attention before the new league year starts in March; the Vikings need to clear around $7 million of space by then. But the ability to build a solid foundation with the team's current talent is piquing the interest of plenty of coaching candidates, which might mean the Vikings can afford to wait for options like former Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who interviewed with the Bears on Wednesday.
While the Vikings go through their searches, some coaches on their current roster are exploring options in the event they're not back in Minnesota. Offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak interviewed for the Panthers' offensive coordinator job on Wednesday, according to a source, and several other coaches are believed to be talking with other teams about possible openings.
If the Vikings interview an internal candidate for the head coaching job, co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson might be the best bet to get time with ownership and a new GM. Patterson is closely tied to former coach Mike Zimmer, but his leadership, ability to connect with players and work spearheading the Vikings' social justice committee has earned him deep respect in the locker room and the organization.
He first worked in Minnesota for Dennis Green, who once told Patterson he saw him as a potential head coach because of his ability to motivate players. He has never interviewed for an NFL head coaching job in his 18 years in the league, however; his first chance could come if the Vikings decided to sit down with him and hear how he'd approach the job.