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Zulgad’s Roundup: Vikings’ football operations department could see changes under new GM

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Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi Wilf, left, and Mark Wilf, center, talk with head coach Mike Zimmer, right, before an NFL preseason football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

With Ryan Poles set to become the general manager of the Chicago Bears, the Vikings are expected to hire Browns executive Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their GM. Of course, Adofo-Mensah and owners Zygi and Mark Wilf must first agree to terms on a contract.

It will be interesting to see if there are changes made to the structure of the Vikings’ personnel department, if Adofo-Mensah ends up running the show. The 40-year-old has a background in analytics and graduated from Princeton with an economics degree. He then worked on Wall Street trading energy derivatives and commodities before he earned a master’s degree in economics from Stanford. The 49ers hired him in 2013 as director of research and football development.

The Vikings could look to bring in some help for Adofo-Mensah on the football side or promote either Ryan Monnens or Jamaal Stephenson. They served as co-directors of player personnel for former general manager Rick Spielman after assistant GM George Paton left to run the Denver Broncos last year. Spielman was more of an old-school football guy with a scouting background so he structured things to fit his strengths.

Assuming he takes the job, Adofo-Mensah will bring a much different skill set.

  • Adofo-Mensah could pursue one of the two Eagles executives who interviewed for the Vikings’ GM position. SKOR North Scoopmaster Darren (Doogie) Wolfson points out that Adofo-Mensah worked under Browns GM Andrew Berry and Barry has Philadelphia connections to director of player personnel Brandon Brown and vice president of football operations Catherine Raiche. One of them could end up being Adofo-Mensah’s assistant general manager.
  • Sean Payton’s decision to step down as coach of the New Orleans Saints after 16 seasons means there are now nine head coaching openings in the NFL, including the Vikings’ job. None have been filled so far. Payton was the Saints coach for 15 seasons (not 16) because he was suspended for all of 2012 as a result of the NFL’s bounty investigation from 2009. Safe to say, Vikings fans won’t be sending Payton any well wishes considering the bounty program was in full effect for the NFC title game against the Vikings.
  • Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets’ could be a potential target of the Timberwolves as the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline approaches, according to Wolfson. The 33-year-old is averaging 14.8 points and 3.2 assists in 40 games this season. He’s shooting a career-high 50.6 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from three-point range.
  • The J.T. Miller to the Wild trade speculation has resurfaced. The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported the Bruins and Flames also are interested in the Vancouver center. Miller leads the Canucks in scoring with 39 points, including 12 goals, in 39 games. Four of his goals have come on the power play. The Wild currently has $4.7 million in salary cap space but they will be up against the cap next season because of the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts. Miller is in the second to last season of a five-year, $26.25 million contract and will carry a cap hit of $5.25 million next season. That would present an issue for general manager Bill Guerin and it would be interesting to see if he would attempt to trade a player to Vancouver to offset Miller’s contract. Guerin also could look to move other pieces this offseason if he obtains Miller.
  • There was one point where it appeared that if Guerin did make a trade he would probably deal Kevin Fiala, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason, but the winger’s recent play and chemistry on a line with Matt Boldy would seem to make that less likely.
  • Another option for the Wild would be to trade for a rental center with an expiring contract. Flyers captain Claude Giroux would be an option. Philadelphia is having a miserable season, with former Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo leading the way, and the 34-year-old Giroux is making $8.275 million in the final season of his deal. Giroux leads the Flyers in scoring with 33 points, including 14 goals, in 39 games. He has three power-play goals and 11 power-play points. The price tag for Giroux should be less than it would be for Miller given their contract situations.
  • If the Wild trades for a center it would be interesting to see if that player was plugged in between Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello or Matt Boldy and Fiala? That’s assuming Fiala isn’t moved. Ryan Hartman has proven to be an excellent fit between Kaprizov and Zuccarello. Also, if Guerin does make a move, don’t expect him to be willing to mortgage a significant part of the Wild’s future.
  • Wild prospect Jack McBain, a third-round pick in the 2018 draft who is a forward at Boston College, was named to Team Canada’s Olympic roster for the upcoming Winter Games. Former Wild center Eric Staal also was selected for the team. McBain has 13 goals and 24 points in 18 games at BC this season.
  • Joe Mauer, the only catcher to win three big-league batting titles, will be on the ballot for the Hall of Fame for the first time in 2024. Joining him in their first year of eligibility will be Adrian Beltre, Chase Utley, David Wright, Bartolo Colon, Matt Holliday and Adrian Gonzalez. Beltre is a lock to go into Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility, while Mauer likely will have to wait but should eventually make it based on his excellence while playing catcher.