After spending the past two seasons with the Browns, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is making a major career move.
The Minnesota Vikings hired Adofo-Mensah as their general manager, the team announced Wednesday night. ESPN first reported the news earlier in the day and added Adofo-Mensah received a four-year deal.
“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 in a news release. “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.”
As a result of the hire, two third-round draft picks are heading to the Browns because of a relatively new NFL rule.
Adofo-Mensah had a second interview with the Vikings on Tuesday, when it became obvious he had emerged as the favorite to land the job previously held by Rick Spielman, who was fired on Jan. 10.
Browns GM Andrew Berry hired Adofo-Mensah in May 2020 as vice president of football operations.
“We are beyond excited that Kwesi has been named general manager of the Minnesota Vikings,” Berry said in a statement. “Kwesi’s infectious energy, critical thinking skills, collaborative spirit and expertise across the football operations/player personnel spectrum made a lasting footprint here in a short period of time. These same characteristics will make him an exceptional leader, problem-solver and roster architect for the Vikings. While we are sad to see him go, we are proud of the person and executive that Kwesi is. We wish him and his fiancee, Chelsea, nothing but the best moving forward.”
Adofo-Mensah’s rise to power in Minnesota strengthens the ties between the Browns and Vikings. Before the Browns hired Kevin Stefanski as their head coach in January 2020, he spent 14 seasons with the Vikings.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know Kwesi and working with him for the last two years,” Stefanski said in a statement. “He’s worked extremely hard for this opportunity and the Vikings are getting an outstanding person that will be driven to build a winning culture. Kwesi has been a great resource for me and our coaching staff and he will do everything in his power to install a process within the Vikings organization that will lead to success.”
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However, if the Browns are interested in exploring a trade for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, Berry and Adofo-Mensah’s relationship could come into play.
Cousins, who played for Stefanski in Minnesota, is scheduled to make $35 million guaranteed in 2022. Mayfield is under contract next season for $18.858 guaranteed by virtue of Berry exercising the fifth-year option on the player’s rookie deal this past April.
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Adofo-Mensah essentially served as Berry’s assistant GM after previously working for the San Francisco 49ers as their director of football research and development.
Adofo-Mensah played basketball at Princeton University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He later earned a master’s degree in the same field from Stanford University.
After a career in finance, Adofo-Mensah took his expertise in analytics to the 49ers, working as a manager of football research and development from 2013-18. He held a director title in the same department for two years before he joined the Browns.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kwesi to the Minnesota Vikings. His unique background, variety of strong football experiences, vision for success and leadership presence immediately stood out to us,” Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf said in the release. “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.”
“Kwesi has a clear philosophy on building a complementary football team,” Vikings owner and chairman Zygi Wilf said in the release. “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.”
Adofo-Mensah is the first Black man in Vikings history to hold the title of GM.
Since the Browns made Berry their GM in January 2020, he has repeatedly stressed the importance of pushing for diversity across the club’s football operations, and he has backed up his words with many of his hires.
“It leads to success, and I know that I’ve been the benefactor of people looking beyond my age and my race throughout every phase of my career,” Berry, a Black man, said in his introductory news conference. “The thing is diversity in the NFL transcends race, age and gender. Diversity of experience and diversity of thought are just as important.”
Cleveland Browns will receive draft picks because of Minnesota Vikings hiring Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as GM
The Browns will receive draft-pick compensation because the Vikings hired Adofo-Mensah.
In November 2020, NFL owners approved a resolution stipulating teams that have a minority coach or executive become a head coach or general manager with another club will receive a third-round compensatory pick for two consecutive years.
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The official resolution obtained by the Beacon Journal states a team is eligible to receive draft-pick compensation if a successful head coach or GM minority candidate “has been employed by the employer-club for a minimum of two full seasons.”
Although Adofo-Mensah’s two-year work anniversary with the Browns would have been in May 2022, he spent two full seasons with the franchise.
That means the Vikings hiring Adofo-Mensah will result in the Browns receiving an extra third-round pick in this year’s draft and next year’s draft.
Adofo-Mensah and Browns vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook also recently interviewed for the GM job of the Chicago Bears.
However, the Bears hired Ryan Poles as their new GM on Tuesday, the team announced. Poles was the executive director of player personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs and another finalist for the GM job of the Vikings.
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Cornerback Greg Newsome II, linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and receiver/running back Demetric Felton were selected to represent the Browns on the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team.
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The Browns drafted Newsome in the first round (26th overall), Owusu-Koramoah in the second round (52nd overall) and Felton in the sixth round (211th overall). Felton was voted to the PFWA All-Rookie team as a punt returner.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons was named the PFWA rookie of the year and the defensive rookie of the year. Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase was chosen as the PFWA offensive rookie of the year.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns to get extra draft picks after Vikings hire Kwesi Adofo-Mensah