The Minnesota Vikings have hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their general manager, according to a person with knowledge of the process, taking an innovative turn by bringing in an analytics expert from Cleveland’s front office who once worked on Wall Street.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Wednesday because the Vikings had not yet announced the decision.
Adofo-Mensah, the vice president of football operations for the Browns for the past two years, was one of two finalists the Vikings identified from an initial pool of eight candidates.
The other was Kansas City executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles, who was hired as general manager of the Chicago Bears on Tuesday before he made it to Minnesota for his scheduled visit. Adofo-Mensah was at Vikings headquarters on Tuesday for his second formal interview.
With Poles and Adofo-Mensah, who are both Black, filling vacancies this cycle there are now seven minority general managers in the NFL. The other five are Andrew Berry (Cleveland), Jerry Fontenot (Atlanta), Chris Grier (Miami), Brad Holmes (Detroit) and Martin Mayhew (Washington).
As part of the NFL’s reward system for teams developing minority coaches and front-office personnel, the Browns will receive compensatory third-round draft picks in each of the next two years for losing Adofo-Mensah. The league adopted that rule in 2020.
The 40-year-old Adofo-Mensah has economics degrees from both Princeton, where he was a junior varsity basketball player, and Stanford. He is a native of New Jersey, just like Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf.
Adofo-Mensah was a commodities trader and portfolio manager early in his career before entering the NFL in 2013 with San Francisco as a research and development specialist. After seven seasons with the 49ers, Adofo-Mensah was hired by Berry and the Browns in 2020. Their relationship formed from a chance meeting between the two in an elevator during the NFL combine.
Adofo-Mensah served as a de facto assistant general manager under Berry with a hand in all aspects of team operations as the Browns transformed their front office and brought some badly needed stability to the franchise.
“I came up unconventionally, but I think that my background is a positive because I didn’t have any preconceived notions or biases,” Adofo-Mensah said during his introductory news conference with Cleveland reporters in 2020. He added: “I will pick every person’s brain, and you find some amazing knowledge from everywhere in this league.”
The Vikings, who fired Rick Spielman on Jan. 10 after 16 seasons with the organization and 10 years with full authority over the roster as general manager, went 8-9 in 2021. They missed the playoffs for the second straight season.
The six others who had video interviews this month with the Vikings were Philadelphia director of player personnel Brandon Brown, Cleveland vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook, Tennessee director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort, Philadelphia vice president of football operations Catherine Raîche, Tampa Bay vice president of player personnel John Spytek and Patriots scouting consultant Eliot Wolf. Half of that group is Black, and Raîche is a woman.
The first order of business for Adofo-Mensah, in conjunction with ownership, will be to hire a head coach to replace Mike Zimmer, who was fired after eight seasons on the same day as Spielman.
The Vikings, who are one of nine teams with a vacancy, have conducted initial video conference interviews with eight candidates: Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, Dallas offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and San Francisco defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.
Raiders eye Todd Bowles for coaching job
The Las Vegas Raiders have made a request to interview Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for their head coach opening.
A person familiar with the search said Tuesday the Raiders made the request to speak with Bowles about filling the void left when Jon Gruden resigned under fire in October. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team was not announcing its candidates.
Bowles is the third known candidate for the position. Interim coach Rich Bisaccia interviewed for the full-time role last week and Patriots defensive assistant Jerod Mayo was expected to interview with owner Mark Davis on Tuesday.
Bowles had a 24-40 record in four seasons as head coach of the Jets before getting fired following the 2018 season. New York went 10-6 his first season before finishing last the next three seasons as he struggled to put together a capable offense.
But Bowles is considered one of the brighter defensive minds in the game with his aggressive, blitzing style helping Tampa Bay win the Super Bowl last season.
During Bowles’ three seasons in Tampa, the Bucs are tied for the third most sacks, and rank third in takeaways and fifth in average yards per play allowed.
Gruden was forced to resign following the release of old offensive emails he wrote.
Bisaccia led the Raiders to a 7-5 record in the regular season and their second playoff berth in 19 years before losing in the wild-card round to the Bengals.
Davis is also seeking a new general manager after firing Mike Mayock last week after three seasons.
The candidates so far in that search include Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, Colts assistant general manager Ed Dodds, Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly, Bengals scout Trey Brown and Raiders director of pro personnel Dwayne Joseph.
Changes to OT format to be considered
The NFL and its rule-making competition committee expect to consider making changes this offseason to the league’s overtime format, particularly as it relates to postseason games. But it is far from certain that any modifications actually will be enacted, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.
The offseason deliberations will come amid the renewed scrutiny of the NFL’s overtime rules that accompanied Sunday’s 42-36 triumph by the Kansas City Chiefs over the Buffalo Bills in a memorable AFC divisional-round playoff game.
The Chiefs, in a thrilling game being hailed by many observers as one of the best in NFL postseason history, won the overtime coin toss and prevailed with an opening-drive touchdown, without the Bills getting possession of the ball.
There probably will be a distinction made in the upcoming discussions between the overtime format for the postseason and the rules for the regular season.
That doesn’t mean that modifications necessarily are coming, even for the postseason. Any rule change ultimately would have to be approved by at least 24 of the 32 teams. A proposal to tweak even the postseason overtime format still could face an uphill climb toward ratification.
The current NFL overtime format, which applies to both regular season and postseason games, allows the team that gets the ball first in overtime to win the game with a touchdown but not a field goal. If a team gets a field goal on the opening possession of overtime, its opponent gets possession of the ball with a chance to tie the game with a field goal or win it with a touchdown. If each team gets a field goal, the game continues on a sudden-death basis, with the next score winning the game.
Eagles OL Brandon Brooks retires
With great reluctance and more than a few tears, Philadelphia Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks announced his retirement after 10 seasons in the NFL. The 32-year-old Brooks, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, became one of the NFL’s best guards after the Eagles signed him in free agency in 2016, he helped Philadelphia win a Super Bowl four years ago. A third-round pick by the Houston Texans out of Miami (Ohio) in 2012, Brooks blossomed under renowned offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Brooks, a quick and powerful 6-foot-5-inch, 335-pounder, said his decision stemmed from his inability to stay healthy. A string of four serious injuries that began with a torn Achilles tendon in January 2019 prevented him from playing all but two games the last two seasons . . . Anthony Levine announced his retirement after a decade with the Baltimore Ravens. The team said Levine will transition into a scouting and coaching role for the Ravens in 2022 Levine, who turns 35 in March, played defensive back and linebacker and was a significant contributor on special teams. In 146 games with Baltimore, Levine had 87 tackles on defense and a franchise-record 62 on coverage units . . . As he recovers from shoulder surgery, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plans to rest his thumbs as well, saying he will take a break from “all social media for the foreseeable future.” Ironically, the polarizing QB went on his Instagram page to announce his hiatus from tweeting and posting. “Gotta do what’s best to focus on me, my family and loved ones,” Mayfield wrote. “Appreciate all the support. Time to get right.” Mayfield recently concluded a dreadful, injury-filled fourth season with the Browns, who were among the NFL’s most disappointing teams. Cleveland went 8-9, missed the playoffs and dealt with drama, much of it involving Mayfield, 26, who injured his left, non-throwing shoulder in Week 2 while trying to make a tackle and struggled all season. He recently underwent surgery in Los Angeles for a torn labrum and is expected to need more than four months to recover . . . Las Vegas Raiders rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs, 22, pleaded guilty to a reduced traffic charge stemming from his arrest earlier this month on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Hobbs was arrested before dawn Jan. 3 after he was found asleep inside a vehicle stopped on an exit ramp of a Las Vegas Strip casino parking garage. Prosecutors said Hobbs’ blood-alcohol level was tested at 0.07 percent, just under the DUI legal limit in Nevada of 0.08 percent. A Las Vegas justice of the peace accepted the plea, imposed a $685 fine, and 20 hours of community service, and ordered Hobbs to stay out of trouble.