About three weeks ago, VikingsTerritory reported that Baltimore Ravens were interested in trading for Minnesota Vikings wideout Adam Thielen this offseason and around the time the teams bartered over defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Ngakoue was shipped last autumn to Baltimore for a 3rd-Round draft pick in 2021, while the sought-after assets, Adam Thielen and Irv Smith Jr., remained in Minnesota. No such luck for the Ravens.
Well, the Thielen trade talk resurfaced this month when the Vikings were linked to curiosity about Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
And this time, EDGE rusher Danielle Hunter is in the mix, too.
The trade-for-Brown jargon doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to begin with, but Ravens world is running with the idea of acquiring Thielen and/or Hunter.
Mike Natelli of EbonyBird.com perceives the hypothetical Hunter-for-Brown trade:
“Hunter is rumored to be seeking a pay raise, which is currently complicated by the fact he’s coming off a neck injury. While that’s not exactly ideal, those two factors could allow the Ravens to gamble on getting a true star pass rusher for below market value, take 2021 to see if he’s truly recovered, then revisit the contract situation next offseason.”
This transaction would indeed be earth-rattling for the Vikings and Ravens, but it is unlikely to come to fruition.
Trade-Hunter Is Not Real Yet
What we know for sure: Danielle Hunter is dissatisfied with his current contract. He earns an average of $14.4 million per season, ranking him around the 20th-highest-paid EDGE rusher in the NFL. When healthy, Hunter is a Top 5 defensive end per performance.
But he didn’t play in 2020 because of a neck injury. That’s really the kicker to Hunter’s discontentment. It is fair for him to want more money – yet asking for it directly after a neck injury puts the Vikings front office in an awkward position. If Hunter is not as formidable as his pre-2020 seasons, is it just tough cookies for the Vikings? A contract extension with a boatload of more money is reasonable for Hunter to seek, but asking for it after a potentially career-defining injury is strange to proffer with a straight face.
What’s more, all that can be ascertained at the moment is that Hunter wants more money. His situation is not necessarily akin to Stefon Diggs from 2020 when the now-Bills wide receiver flat-out disliked Minnesota’s offensive philosophy.
For now, the Vikings have not broached a “trade me” ultimatum with Hunter.
Brown Not a Fit for Vikings O-Line
The alleged Hunter-for-Brown swap is also a philosophically bizarre hypothesis. While Brown is a wonderful tackle, the Vikings utilize a zone-blocking offensive line scheme. Brown is a mountainous person in the mold of Bryant McKinnie from the 2000s, so it would be odd for Minnesota to scrap its longstanding scheme for a commodity like Brown. Stranger things have occurred, but Brown does not scream the type of tackle the Vikings normally pursue. Head coach Mike Zimmer’s offense generally employs a more nimble, smaller left tackle – and Brown is not small. He may be agile for his size – just not the norm for recent Vikings teams.
Trading for Brown – Hunter or no Hunter in the deal – is a head-scratcher.
Thielen Will Remain in Minnesota
It is unlikely that Thielen would be included in a Brown-Hunter agreement. Why? Because the Vikings have never shown any interest in jettisoning Thielen. The Minnesota State alumnus is a golden boy – arguably the most sentimental Vikings player story in team history. The widespread tale of his rags-to-riches ascension to WR1 is well-documented.
Ergo, if a deal was made that included Hunter and Thielen for Brown, well, there would be significantly more chips added to the pile on behalf of the Ravens. We’re talking multiple draft picks.
Hunter as a standalone talent is too much to offer for Brown. Sprinkling in Thielen – for whatever reason – would be asinine.
If the Hunter situation escalates dreadfully, his price tag will fetch something closer to what the Las Vegas Raiders accrued for Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears in 2018. Perhaps not the whole platter due to Hunter’s recent injury, but Mack’s deal commanded a compensation of two 1st-Rounders, a 3rd-Rounder, and a 6th-Rounder — for Mack, a 2nd Rounder, and a 7th-Rounder.