But now, the 41-year-old analytics-driven executive is making his mark on the franchise.
Adofo-Mensah made four trades in the final 10 days approaching the 53-man roster deadline on August 30, three of which occurred in the same 24 hours this past week.
And his biggest surprise cut in starting defensive end Armon Watts has been met with some speculation after only acquiring a reclamation project in Houston Texans defensive lineman Ross Blacklock to replace Watts’ spot in the starting lineup.
It’s no fire sale on a team loaded with veteran talent that hopes to make a run in the next two years, but it is significant — and an even bigger move could be on the horizon after questions have risen surrounding the Watts-Blacklock swap.
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‘There’s More Coming,’ Insider Says
In the aftermath of the Blacklock trade, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson shared in a September 1 episode of the SKOR North podcast that he believes “there’s more coming” from the Vikings who didn’t necessarily improve the right defensive end spot by acquiring Blacklock.
His hunch is a potential deal with five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
“There’s more coming,” Wolfson said, adding that he wasn’t pointing to the Raegor trade, but expects another acquisition in the future. “I do wonder about Ndamukong Suh… I’ve heard of recent dialogue. My sense is it’s more Suh’s agent initiating that dialogue. There has been recent dialogue but I just don’t know if the Vikings are willing to pay Suh what he’s looking for.”
On August 21, The Athletic’s Tashan Reed reported that the Raiders also remain interested in Suh but his asking price remains an issue in contract talks, saying the 35-year-old is looking for a deal upward of $8 or $9 million.
“If he wants to take less I’m inclined to think the Vikings are willing to bring him in,” Wolfson added. “I have a hard time believing the Vikings are paying him $8 or $9 million.”
While signing Suh would be an upgrade to the defensive line, the Vikings are up against the cap. Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson said that Over the Cap’s salary cap analyst Jason Fitzgerald estimates the team to be well-short of Suh’s asking price with only $2.3 million in cap space after Minnesota signs its practice squad.
“Things are tight,” Tomasson added, including a quote from Adofo-Mensah who said, “I’ll continue to say that every NFL team has challenges.”
Minnesota could approach a veteran to restructure their contract to free up enough cap space to sign Suh, similar to what Riley Reiff did in 2020, which allowed the Vikings to take a rental on Yannick Ngakoue.
Otherwise, they may make a more budget-friendly move in the near future.
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Blacklock Says He’s Unlikely to Start Week 1
Blacklock, a 2020 second-round pick, is a raw talent with potential that was untapped in Houston.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler projected Blacklock as the fourth-ranked defensive tackle coming out of TCU due to his athleticism.
“Overall, Blacklock doesn’t get home enough on tape, but all the traits are there with his blend of size, quickness and power to develop into a disruptive presence, projecting as a versatile lineman who can play anywhere from the nose to the five-technique,” Brugler wrote.
Appearing in 29 games over his first two seasons in the league, Blacklock picked up 30 total tackles and two sacks. He was hoping for a breakout season in 2022, but the move to Minnesota spells some doubt after the Texans moved on from a homegrown prospect to move up one round in next year’s draft.
Adofo-Mensah touted Blacklock’s pass-rushing ability which may be a better fit in the team’s 3-4 defense than Watts, however, he’s not a lock to start in Week 1.
“Under the circumstances, where I just came from and how quickly things happen in transition, I know that’s not a reality,” Blacklock said, per the Pioneer Press. “I’ve got to learn the playbook first. I got to get the defense down. … So I’ll say maybe (starting) in time. Not Week 1, but definitely in time.”
Blacklock added that he expects Jonathan Bullard, who has been working with the first team, to start to open the season, while head coach Kevin O’Connell also mentioned Bullard as a possible starter.
“Ultimately, I think we feel great about (the acquisition of Blacklock) in addition to the fact that a guy like Bullard shows up here and has a real impact on our run defense,” O’Connell said, per the Pioneer Press.