Minnesota Vikings hire Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to be GM

EAGAN, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings have hired Cleveland Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their new general manager, the team announced Wednesday night.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Adofo-Mensah is getting a four-year deal. He replaces Rick Spielman, who was fired at the conclusion of the 2021 season after a 16-year stint as the Vikings' general manager that produced a 132-123-2 record.

Adofo-Mensah is the 10th person in franchise history to hold a general manager title and/or carry out the duties of the team's GM. (Current executive vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski was the top football executive from 2002 to 2005 without an official GM title.) Adofo-Mensah comes to Minnesota after spending the 2020-21 seasons in Cleveland working under general manager Andrew Berry.

"We are thrilled to welcome Kwesi to the Minnesota Vikings," co-owner and team president Mark Wilf said. "His unique background, variety of strong football experiences, vision for success and leadership presence immediately stood out to us.

"Kwesi is naturally committed and driven to building the best teams through consensus building and the pursuit of information. We believe he will immediately make us better as a team and organization."

As Vikings co-owner and chairman Zygi Wilf added, "Kwesi has a clear philosophy on building a complementary football team. His intelligence, progressive mindset and passion for the game, along with his ability to make thoughtful and intentional decisions, provide a tremendous foundation as he leads our football operations."

The Browns hired Adofo-Mensah from the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 after he spent seven seasons as the Niners' manager and then director of football research and development. The 40-year-old holds an undergraduate degree and a master's degree in economics from Princeton and Stanford, respectively, and he was a member of the junior varsity basketball team at Princeton.

Prior to entering the NFL in 2013, Adofo-Mensah had several Wall Street ventures as a portfolio manager and a commodities trader.

Adofo-Mensah's first order of business will be to drive the Vikings' search for a new head coach after Minnesota fired Mike Zimmer following eight seasons.

As the Vikings conducted interviews for their next general manager -- starting with eight candidates, before narrowing down their search to two finalists in Adofo-Mensah and former Kansas City Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles -- the team also spoke with eight candidates for its opening at head coach, a candidate pool that contains five defensive coordinators and three offensive coordinators.

49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who was a quality control coach and an inside linebackers coach for the 49ers during the final three seasons that Adofo-Mensah spent with the franchise from 2017 to 2019, was Minnesota's last head coach interview from the initial round on Sunday. The Vikings also interviewed Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell, who overlapped with Adofo-Mensah in San Francisco in 2016, and Green Bay Packers O-coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

Adofo-Mensah's second interview took place in Minnesota on Tuesday, the same day that the Chicago Bears finalized a deal to hire Poles as their next general manager.

In Cleveland, Adofo-Mensah assisted Berry with the day-to-day operations of the front office while overseeing talent evaluators and the analytics team. Adofo-Mensah inherits a structure with the Vikings that is currently without an assistant general manager but does have high-ranking personnel executives, including Brzezinski, who manages the team's salary cap, and co-directors of player personnel Ryan Monnens and Jamaal Stephenson. All three were a part of the committee that interviewed the team's general manager candidates.

"I am extremely thankful to the Wilf family and the Vikings organization for giving me the opportunity to lead our football operations and join this respected franchise," Adofo-Mensah said. "There is so much to appreciate about this organization -- an existing nucleus of talent on the roster, top-notch facilities, passionate fans and smart people throughout the building who are committed to winning. I look forward to partnering with our next head coach and our entire football operations staff to begin our work of bringing a Super Bowl to Vikings fans."

Adofo-Mensah interviewed for the Carolina Panthers' general manager opening in 2021. In addition to the Vikings, he also interviewed with the Bears for their GM vacancy.

A resolution approved by NFL owners in 2020 states that a team that loses a minority executive or coach to a general manager or head coach position with another NFL franchise will receive a third-round compensatory pick for two consecutive years.

The rule requires the minority GM or head coach candidates to have been with their respective club for a minimum of two full seasons. Adofo-Mensah's two-year stint with Cleveland fulfills that requirement.