The Absence of Danielle Hunter-Related Melodrama
Does this May for the Minnesota Vikings feel a little stress-free? It should.
Last year at this time, onlookers of the Vikings were embroiled in “is healthy yet?” and “will he agree to financial terms?” discussions about Pro Bowl EDGE rusher Danielle Hunter.
Those aren’t occurring now in 2022 — a refreshing change of pace absent any melodrama.
In 2021, Hunter was recovering from a neck injury — one of the scariest areas on the body for an athlete to rehabilitate. Plus, his contract left him underpaid, and fans wondered if Hunter would return at all. This was also the same news cycle when Hunter “liked tweets” from fans who proposed a Hunter trade to the Tennessee Titans or Las Vegas Raiders. You know, the usual social media grind.
This year is totally different for Hunter and the Vikings.
The 27-year-old was all smiles on Tuesday at Vikings minicamp, seemingly ready to join free-agent signee Za’Darius Smith for quarterback havoc this September.
And Hunter opined about his $18 million roster bonus, “I wasn’t really worried about that. My biggest thing was getting through my rehab and coming back playing football. The contract, I let that stuff handle itself with my agent and the GM.”
Hunter has missed 81% of football games in the last two years, banking on a full season of good health in 2022. If so, the man is rounding out the prime years of his career and will assuredly secure a payday more in tune with his pre-2020 performance. For a while — because he missed 26 games in two years — the Vikings have existed in a delicate spot, balancing Hunter’s otherworldly production against his lack of on-the-field availability.
The “fuss” last year pertained to paying a man returning from a spooky neck injury, which can derail players’ careers.
But none of that injury or money stuff is present this spring. New general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah put those items in the rearview when Hunter’s roster bonus hit the books a couple of months ago.
Therefore, the Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell honeymoon is likely to continue through the summer — until the regular season arrives.
A final interesting note: when Hunter sets foot on the field in September, it will be his first professional game without Everson Griffen on the Vikings roster.
Unless Griffen re-signs, of course. He’s a free agent.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).