Scoggins: Vikings GM showing blueprint for roster, Cousins’ contract

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The calendar notes that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah celebrated his 414th day in charge of the Vikings football operation on Wednesday. In terms of implementing his vision, though, the general manager is just starting to reveal his playbook.

The most noteworthy development within a flurry of transactions is Adofo-Mensah's decision to put himself on the clock to resolve the team's quarterback quandary.

He's betting on himself, and his coach, Kevin O'Connell, to find the right answer to the most important personnel decision in professional sports, and that big-ticket item suddenly has more urgency.

Ready, set … go.

Adofo-Mensah spent most of Wednesday morning observing the Gophers' pro day. If he had taken cues from Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck, Adofo-Mensah would have labeled his first season with the Vikings as Year Zero. Or Year Limbo.

Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell were smart enough to know that whatever happened in the 2022 season — good, bad or average — the organization had to pivot to a new plan this offseason.

The acronym duo — KAM and KOC — squeezed 13 wins and a division title out of an aging roster that produced one of the NFL's worst defenses. Anyone with an ounce of football acumen took that for what it was — an outlier, not a blueprint.

Entertaining season, now let the new regime start fresh.

The Vikings very likely could finish with a worse record in 2023, but the blueprint unfolding this week makes sense. It feels right. Personnel moves based more on logic than emotion because sentiment can misguide decision-makers trying to navigate the salary cap maze.

No organizational decision carries more significance, or more consequences, than the choice at quarterback. How the KAM-KOC tenure gets defined in the final analysis will hinge largely on that singular decision.

Adofo-Mensah appears ready to get on with it.

For now, Kirk Cousins is under contract for one more season. The Vikings executed some accounting gymnastics with Cousins' contract Tuesday to gain salary cap wiggle room, but the length of term remained unchanged.

The two sides failed to find agreement in years beyond the upcoming season. That doesn't mean, if nothing changes, that the organization and Cousins can't agree to extend the marriage after 2023. But today, as it stands, the team seems content to let Cousins play out his final year.

My Plan A preference would be to extend Cousins' contract by one extra season, through 2024. That would give Adofo-Mensah two drafts to find (theoretically) his franchise quarterback and then allow that quarterback time to watch and learn behind Cousins.

The assumption here is that Cousins' camp prefers more commitment than only one additional season. Maybe that will change at some point.

If the Vikings don't select a quarterback this spring — which would be tricky considering their draft position and lack of picks to use as trade capital — then they could find themselves needing to draft and start a rookie in 2024. A veteran "bridge" quarterback could be an option, but the organization has traveled that path many times previously. That's only a short-term option.

The pressure to hit the bull's-eye will be high regardless of timing, but Adofo-Mensah's actions indicate he's willing to start the quarterback succession plan as soon as next offseason.

I applaud that boldness. Locking into three or four more years with Cousins at a high salary would present challenges in constructing a roster, especially with Justin Jefferson primed to receive a new mega-contract that will pay him a quarterback's salary.

Adofo-Mensah's plan has come into focus the past few weeks. A roster makeover with more youth added was both necessary and inevitable. Holding steady on Cousins' contract length speeds up that overarching decision. It's impossible to know how this will all turn out, of course, but this now truly feels like the beginning of a much-needed organizational reset.