Danielle Hunter’s New Deal Skirts the Procrastination Trick

The Vikings 2022 Defense by the Numbers: After Week 9
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After the 2023 NFL Draft, many Minnesota Vikings fans wondered about Danielle Hunter’s future as the defender was scheduled to earn just $5.5 million in ‘new money’ this season. The 28-year-old even held out of June’s minicamp and ‘held in’ during the first week of training camp.

Danielle Hunter’s New Deal Skirts the Procrastination Trick

The Vikings answered the question last weekend by reworking Hunter’s deal to the tune of one year and $17 million, with the agreement expandable to $20 million via incentives.

Hunter returns for a ninth season in purple, and Minnesota hopes to improve a defense that ranked 30th in points allowed last year.

New Deal Skirts
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Like almost every NFL contract, a few days elapsed before the details dribbled out. And when the minutiae arrived, the Vikings avoided a tactic many believed would be implemented — ‘pushing a bunch of money into future years.’

In fact, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah deployed the opposite technique, structuring the deal so that most of the additional Hunter money hits this year’s cap, of which the Vikings owned about $18 million in available funds before the new contract.

Hunter Is
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On Wednesday, ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted on the X app, “Danielle Hunter’s new deal with the Vikings: Signing bonus: $5.5M. Base salary: $10M (guaranteed. Per-game bonuses: $1.5M (guaranteed). Incentives: Up to $3M. Updated 2023 cap hit: $20.95M.”

The Vikings essentially plopped most of the ‘new money’ into this year instead of ‘figuring it out later,’ a strategy used with Kirk Cousins this offseason. If Cousins departs via free agency next offseason, Minnesota will immediately absorb $28.5 million in dead cap to 2024’s books.

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Hunter’s new deal is concocted to allow for an extension with the Vikings next offseason, a trade, or a post-June 1st release — like Dalvin Cook this June. Too, from Hunter’s own lips, the man doesn’t sound like he’s hellbent on leaving Minnesota. Hunter told a gallery of reporters Monday, “I want to be a Viking forever.”

Those words are encouraging for a player just exiting a contractual standoff.

“I love this organization. I’ve always been an advocate for these dudes. I’m happy to be back, happy to get back out there with my teammates, and just want to get out there and play football. It’s been a long process, but I’m here now, and I’m ready to work,” Hunter added.

Danielle Hunter Is Back — Sort Of
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If Hunter does not play for the Vikings in 2024, the franchise will still be assessed a cap hit near $15 million, probably spread out over the next few seasons. But Adofo-Mensah opted not to increase that total by too much, which could’ve been tempting if he wanted to explore free agencies this summer of players like Ndamukong Suh or Dalton Risner, for example.

Minnesota has around $10 million in cap space as of August 2nd.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.