Vikings Need a QB More Than They Need Insurance

This might be the best chance general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell have at picking a franchise-altering passer. 
The pressure is on O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah to trade up in the NFL draft and select a franchise quarterback.
The pressure is on O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah to trade up in the NFL draft and select a franchise quarterback. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Last Friday in his pre-NFL draft news conference, Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah likened acquiring an additional, late first-round pick in the 2024 draft to auto insurance. Perhaps in an effort to tamp down speculation that this was a tool to help the team springboard into the top three and land a quarterback, Adofo-Mensah said one could go their whole lives without needing auto insurance, but in the case of an accident would be glad to have it. 

The comparison is apt because if the Vikings fail to make their way into the top three of the draft and get one of the absolute best quarterbacks in this class, it would be the managerial equivalent of negligent driving. We are now into Year 3 of his regime. The Vikings have had one historically fortuitous season (2022), going 13–4 with a negative point differential and a first-round playoff loss to the Giants. And they’ve had what amounted to an injury marred shoulder shrugging in ’23, where head coach Kevin O’Connell admirably ran what amounted to quarterback tryouts during a 7–10 season. This also culminated in a negative point differential and, for reference, the prior Vikings regime had just three of eight seasons ending with more points surrendered than scored. 

We point that out not to place him on the uncomfortably named “hot seat.” In fact, I think Adofo-Mensah has been fine, though, as I’ve written, his true ingenuity will come via his quarterback-selection process and the structuring of a mega deal for receiver Justin Jefferson. But, if the Vikings stand pat at Nos. 11 and 23, respectively, they will be squandering the best chance they have had in the Adofo-Mensah–O’Connell timeline to move up for a capable, franchise-altering passer. While Patrick Mahomes once had to wait until pick No. 10, that caliber of player isn’t in wave two of this year’s quarterback class. And trying to sell Vikings fans on as much would feel like a faux concession, admitting to a lack of risk-taking ability. 

Much like O’Connell’s successor, Mike Zimmer, the team’s current head coach does not possess the ability to stop churning. There is no white flag surrender in a season, and so handing him Joshua Dobbs with 45 seconds of game-planning time is good enough to help him win a football game. Minnesota is never going to bottom out, but they are peering into the same unattractive and consistent purgatory that got Zimmer fired in the first place. 

The fascinating part about all of this is that it’s easy enough for us to put together, and it’s probably simple enough for the Patriots to put together as well. Maybe both teams already have an agreement in place. The two certainly exchanged appreciative glances when New England signed K.J. Osborn and the Vikings netted a compensatory pick windfall in the process—selections that could ultimately factor into an eventual deal, oddly enough—and, generally speaking, I find the newer class of general managers to be more social and willing to have open conversations on a consistent basis. I feel like the days of covertly waiting until the 11-minute mark of the draft to nervously spring a proposal on a GM that his analytics department cannot parse out are probably winnowing. 

But if there is no understood pact between the Vikings and Patriots yet, how far will Adofo-Mensah go in order to make this draft seem like a worthwhile endeavor? How tightly will the Patriots constrain the vice grip? Will they find a breaking point and turn this seemingly promising Vikings draft into a hype-less nonspectacle, leaving them desperate to play up the value of insurance?  

Certainly, Minnesota could hedge. There will most likely be a quarterback worth taking in next year’s draft, though probably not the same depth of talent and especially experience toward the top of the class. They could be interested in waiting out what may be an elite veteran quarterback free-agent class after this season led, for now, by an almost assuredly hitting-the-market Dak Prescott. 

Or, they could—and should—be preparing to lay it all on the line now. It’s never an enjoyable moment for a general manager, as it truly binds the organization’s top decision-maker to a single person. But eventually it is a necessity. Only Ryan Poles of Chicago has artfully extended a run long enough without eventually cementing himself to the whims of another human being. 

I’m not saying that this is why Adofo-Mensah has avoided it to this point, but I am saying that time is running out to make that declaration and this is as good a time as any. Choosing not to pay Kirk Cousins has consequences. Choosing to pass on an early round developmental passer before Jaren Hall (who still could be really good, by the way) has its consequences. Choosing to get the insurance in the first place has its ultimate consequences. 

Ignoring a quarterback now would be devastating. Adofo-Mensah’s in-house actuaries would probably agree, insurance be damned.  


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John Pluym

JOHN PLUYM

John Pluym is the managing editor for NFL and golf content at Sports Illustrated. A sports history buff, he previously spent 10 years at ESPN overseeing NFL coverage. John has won several awards throughout his career, including from the Society of News Design and Associated Press Sports Editors. As a native Minnesotan, he enjoys spending time on his boat and playing golf.