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New Minnesota Vikings general manager gets real about Kirk Cousins

Vincent Frank

New Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah just oversaw his first offseason in that post since coming over from the Cleveland Browns. He’ now going to get a first-hand view of the team during training camp.

One of the primary topics of discussion in Minneapolis over the past several months has been the future of embattled quarterback Kirk Cousins after he signed a one-year, $35 million extension back in March.

For some, Cousins is nothing more than your middle-of-the-road starter who can’t up the performance of his team. Others look at Cousins’ otherwise exceptional numbers and believe he’s bordering on elite status.

For Adofo-Mensah, it might be somewhere in between. But to say that he didn’t give Cousins a ringing endorsement in a recent Q&A with Jori Epstein of USA TODAY wouldn’t be an overreaction.

“I’ll be frank. The one asset where you get nervous about not burning it down is quarterback.”

Minnesota Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah on the NFL’s most-important position

Neither Adofo-Mensah nor new head coach Kevin O’Connell have a built-in relationship with Cousins. There’s was some thought given to the idea that they’d move off him early in the offseason.

That was replaced with the financial reality of the situation. Already up against the salary cap. Minnesota would have incurred a huge dead cap hit by trading or releasing Cousins. Instead, it signed him to a one-year contact extension — pretty much linking Cousins to the Twin Cities through the 2023 campaign.

Related: Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and the NFL’s best QBs

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Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

While acknowledging that Cousins is a “good” quarterback, Adofo-Mensah also said “we don’t have a Tom Brady” and “we don’t have a Patick Mahomes.”

“The Super Bowl is more likely to win if you have that quarterback,” the first-year GM said. “It’s very unlikely to have that quarterback.”

Minnesota is coming off an ugly 8-9 season under former head coach Mike Zimmr. Despite this, Cousins still put up some eye-opening numbers for the sub-500 team.

At issue here is Cousins’ inability to elevate the performance of his team. Minnesota has boasted a 33-29-1 record with him as the starter since signing the former Michigan State standout following the 2017 season.

It’s not necessarily a knock on Cousins that his new general manager won’t compare him to Brady or Mahomes. Very few are compared to those two.

Related: 2022 outlook for Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings

With that said, it’s now time for the signal caller to up his performance heading into his Age-34 season. Sans a built-in relationship with the Vikings’ new brass, much of the same from Cousins will result in Adofo-Mensah going in a different direction sooner rather than later.

“I believe in decision science and our abilities,” Adofo-Mensah said. “I don’t believe that I can pick the next Pat Mahomes that much better than anybody. If you give me five chances, I think we’d be better and we’d get four out of five rather than (others’) three out of five.”

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That’s the definition of putting Cousins on notice.