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Vikings hire Browns executive Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager

Adofo-Mensah was one of two finalists after the Vikings conducted virtual interviews with eight candidates between Jan. 16-20. The other finalist was Ryan Poles, who was the Kansas City Chiefs’ executive director of player personnel. Poles was scheduled to interview Wednesday in Minnesota before being named Chicago’s general manager on Tuesday.

012622.S.STP.VIKINGS-Adofo-Mensah MUG.jpg
Undated courtesy photo of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the Cleveland Browns Vice President for Football Operations.
Cleveland Browns photo
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings have hired Cleveland Browns executive Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their new general manager, a source said Wednesday.

Adofo-Mensah, the Browns’ vice president of football operations the past two seasons, replaces Rick Spielman, who was fired Jan. 10 after 16 years with the Vikings, the final 10 as general manager. Adofo-Mensah, who has a strong background in analytics, provides a contrast to Spielman, whose strength has been in scouting.

Adofo-Mensah had a second interview with the Vikings on Tuesday after going through a virtual interview on Jan. 17. After he remained in the Twin Cities overnight, a deal was reached Wednesday morning. NFL Media reported that Adofo-Mensah received a four-year, $12 million contract.

Adofo-Mensah, 40, was one of two finalists after the Vikings conducted virtual interviews with eight candidates between Jan. 16-20. The other finalist was Ryan Poles, who was the Kansas City Chiefs’ executive director of player personnel. Poles was scheduled to interview Wednesday in Minnesota before being named Chicago’s general manager on Tuesday.

After Poles took the Bears job, Adofo-Mensah emerged as Minnesota’s leading candidate.

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Adofo-Mensah becomes the first Black man in the Vikings’ 61-year history to have the title of general manager. However, Dennis Green, an African-American who was Minnesota’s head coach from 1992-2001, was the de facto general manager in his final two years with the franchise.

Due a rule instituted in 2020, the NFL will award third-round compensatory draft picks to the Browns in both 2022 and 2023 since they developed a minority general manager who was with that team for two seasons.

Adofo-Mensah received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Princeton and a master’s in economics from Stanford. He got his start as a day trader on Wall Street before serving as manager of football research and development with the San Francisco 49ers from 2013-16 and director of football research and development with the 49ers from 2017-19. He had been with the Browns since May 2020.

Long snapper Charley Hughlett, one of Browns’ two longest-tenured players at eight seasons, said Wednesday his dealings with Adofo-Mensah were strictly “casual passings around the building” but Hughlett said Adofo-Mensah “always was very polite and happy.”

On the same day the Vikings fired Spielman, they also fired Mike Zimmer as head coach. Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf said then that they would hire a general manager before a head coach, and the general manager will have input on a coach. Minnesota has had virtual interviews so far with eight candidates for coach.

Among the eight, two were assistants with San Francisco when Adofo-Mensah was there. DeMeco Ryans, in his first season as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, was a quality control coach in 2017 and inside linebackers coach from 2018-19 during Adofo-Mensah’s tenure. And Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell was a 49ers special projects assistant in 2016.

Adofo-Mensah is from Cherry Hill, N.J., and has said he grew up a big football fan. However, at Princeton, he was a basketball player on the junior varsity for multiple seasons prior to his 2003 graduation. He never dressed out for a varsity game but did earn a junior varsity letter.

“I’m happy for him,” said American University head basketball coach Mike Brennan, who was Adofo-Mensah’s junior varsity coach at Princeton. “He was a very likeable guy, and it’s great to see him do well.”

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Brennan said Adofo-Mensah was a part-time starter who made an impact on his teammates.

“He was a hard worker,” Brennan said. “He was a diligent worker. He listened. He was attentive. He was fun to coach. He was a well-liked kid amongst the team. He tried to learn everything you threw at him.”

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