INDIANAPOLIS — Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been the Vikings general manager for less than five weeks.
In that time, he's hired a new head coach in Kevin O'Connell, ushered in new faces on the coaching staff and connected with Minnesota's scouting department to get the offseason off and running.
Adofo-Mensah has quickly realized there's a little bit longer to-do list now that he's the head figure in charge of the Vikings front office.
"There are a couple moments when things get emailed and it's like, 'Oh wait, I gotta handle, that's not somebody else's jobs,' But again, I had a bit of a transition being vice president of football operations in Cleveland, being a mini-GM in a sense for a lot of departments and so ... really the hard part about the job is, as you come up the ranks, you're able to control your time," Adofo-Mensah said Tuesday in a side session with Twin Cities media members at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
"The second you go higher up in management, your time isn't your own. So just navigating that, not being anxious about that, knowing that that pile of work that keeps growing, you'll get it done," Adofo-Mensah added. "I think [Jets Head Coach Robert] Saleh called me to talk to me and he was just like, 'Hey man, best advice I ever got was just... it's gonna get done. Breathe.' And I've had to adjust to that the past couple of years, so I guess that was the biggest change."
Adofo-Mensah was asked about his unique path to the NFL on Tuesday — he holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Princeton University, a master's degree in economics from Stanford University and worked on Wall Street before joining the 49ers in 2014 — and said "I don't know that anybody holds themselves to a higher standard than myself."
But the Vikings first-year GM is now entering a crucial part of the NFL offseason, with the combine in full swing in Indianapolis and the start of the New League Year set to begin at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 16.
Soon, Adofo-Mensah will dive headfirst into roster decisions, free agency and the draft.
Naturally, the biggest talking points at the combine center around quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is currently set to enter the final year of his current contract in 2022.
Adofo-Mensah was asked if figuring on a short or long-term decision on Cousins is the first piece of his offseason puzzle as the Vikings GM.
"I mean, look, ultimately to win at the highest level, it's pretty hard to do it without good quarterback play. So globally, that question needs to be answered," Adofo-Mensah said. "Now does it need to be answered this year versus the next five years and things like that? It's trying to be smart about how you try to answer that question generally to sustain success in the NFL.
"But again, he's under contract, Kirk's our quarterback. He's a really good player. I think he's going to play at a high level for us given all the things Kevin wants to do with him and things like that, so we're excited about that," Adofo-Mensah added. "We're not doing more than that; we're not doing less than that. That's just where we're trying to put a championship team around him — that's both sides of the ball, and we're excited about doing it."
The Vikings essentially have three options with Cousins: trade him, extend him (as they did in 2019) or let him play out the final season of his current deal.
Is Adofo-Mensah comfortable with the latter option?
"Ultimately, with all these things, you have options. Just like they have options. And ultimately, we're trying to do the best thing for us," Adofo-Mensah said. "All these things are uncertain, how he's going to play, what's the market going to be, all these things, this puzzle.
"And ultimately, you're just trying to answer it not knowing today what's going to happen. So, I wish I could tell you for certain anything," Adofo-Mensah added. "Everything's in play, and I hate to be that general, but everything's in play with every player, and everybody's going to get up there and say that, but it is just the truth."
Adofo-Mensah did note that he recently had dinner with Mike McCartney, Cousins' agent.
"We had dinner together but we just talked generally about our vision for the team and what we want to accomplish," Adofo-Mensah said. "Those conversations are ongoing, and I can't tell you anything at this moment, but we will communicate and we will do whatever's best for the Minnesota Vikings, and Kirk will do what's best for Kirk. But I think there's a lot of middle ground for us to work well together."
Tackling the Cousins' situation will be a high priority for Adofo-Mensah, but it won't be the only issue he faces early.
According to data from overthecap.com, the Vikings are currently projected to be over the 2022 salary cap limit of $208.8 million.
All teams must be under that figure by the time the New League Year begins, and any available financial resources could then possibly be used to sign free agents.
Adofo-Mensah said the next few weeks will likely be a juggling act as he faces each aspect of the NFL offseason for the first time as the Vikings GM.
"Again, it is just that puzzle. You're juggling 18 things in the air," Adofo-Mensah said. "You come to the combine and one of the things you do is try and figure out what [potential free-agent] players generally think they're going to get, and what … agents will ask you, 'Are you interested in my player?'
"And [my answer is], 'Well, that depends. It depends on what your player wants.' And so we're just navigating that at large," Adofo-Mensah added. "We plan to try and improve our team. Again, everybody's got constraints, not just us. We're going to try and navigate those and put the best team on the field."