One Viking Secured the Bag on Saturday and Deserves Every Penny

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When an offseason kicks off with expiring contracts, potential new acquisitions, and the draft’s unpredictability, there are always many uncertainties. But one thing was expected when Minnesota started their 2023 offseason: Pro Bowl defender Danielle Hunter needs a new contract because he would be unlikely to play for a laughable paycheck.

One Viking Secured the Bag on Saturday and Deserves Every Penny

Indeed, some leverage games were played as Hunter skipped the offseason workouts and the beginning of training camp. Once the two parties agreed on a new contract, the star defender joined his teammates and got ready for the 2023 season.

1 Viking Secured the Bag on Saturday and He Deserves Every Penny
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) is sacked hard by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) in the second quarter of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.

One year removed from back-to-back season-ending injuries, he proved that he can stay healthy and is still one of the premier edge rushers in the sport. Hunter hasn’t lost any of his dominance, even in a different scheme, playing as an outside linebacker.

Coming off a season in which the defense was the conspicuous Achilles heel of the football team, the Vikings could ill-afford losing their star defender, the guy who just continues to make plays. Brian Flores arrived with the agenda to build a new defense, and that is much easier with a player of his caliber on the team.

Future in Minnesota Should
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The three-time Pro Bowler used his leverage to perfection, earning a big raise in the final year of his contract. His new contract includes $17 million guaranteed and another $3 million tied up in bonuses he can unlock by doing what he does best: sacking the opposing quarterbacks.

With his two sacks in Cincinnati, Hunter not only climbed back to the league lead in sacks but also received the full bonus of his deal to become one of the few winners in the heartbreaking defeat. Hunter is now sitting at the top of the sack leaderboard with 15.5, already shredding his previous career high of 14.5.

In his long tenure with the franchise, he joined the team in the third round of the 2015 draft when former GM Rick Spielman perhaps made his best move and selected the athletic freak with limited production out of LSU. He has been a true cornerstone of the defense.

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Longtime head coach Mike Zimmer, his defensive line coach Andre Patterson, and the other coaches helped him transform into a wonderful defender. Most teams look for a dominant force on the edge, someone who can single-handedly ruin plays, especially those that can do it in various ways, rushing the passer but also in the running game.

Once the season concludes, Hunter is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, and the Vikings can’t use the franchise tag. However, they should do everything in their power to find a way to keep the long-tenured Viking, although there should be a bunch of suitors.

The other edge rushers under contract for 2024 are Patrick Jones and Andre Carter, which is unacceptable and requires desperation mode to build a decent group.

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Hunter ranks sixth on the sacks leaderboard in franchise history, only trailing Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, John Randle, Alan Page, and Chris Doleman. He is 10 sacks behind Doleman. The defender turned 29 in October and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, perhaps playing the best season of his career.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt