Danielle Hunter’s Future in Minnesota Should Be a No-Brainer

Mill Links Danielle
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

For the last few offseasons, Danielle Hunter’s contract and status have dominated at least a portion of the spring and summer, and 2024 should be no different.

The 29-year-old pass rusher is scheduled to hit free agency in March.

Danielle Hunter’s Future in Minnesota Should Be a No-Brainer

Hunter was the subject of trade rumors leading up to the league’s deadline in October, but no swap materialized as the Vikings began winning games right when the Hunter rumor became hot and heavy. The theory, at the time, suggested Minnesota should offload the productive EDGE rusher for a high-round draft pick, especially because Minnesota held a 1-4 record to start the season.

Future in Minnesota Should
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But Minnesota ripped off five wins and currently stands at 6-6 entering Week 14, a true crossroads in determining playoff fate.

And when the season is over, attention will turn to Hunter’s free agency, as well as many other Vikings-themed items like Kirk Cousins’ status, Justin Jefferson’s eventual extension, and of course, the 2024 NFL Draft.

Sack Master
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Keeping Hunter, though, for the long term should be a no-brainer for the Vikings. Indeed, the man will ask for approximately $25-30 million per season, but a three-year-or-so deal for Hunter isn’t too risky. Twenty-nine-year-old outside linebackers don’t usually drop off like running backs, for example.

Why does Minnesota need Hunter? Simple — two reasons:

  1. Hunter is still in career prime.
  2. The Vikings have zero starting EDGE rushers under contract in 2024.
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Hunter ranks third in sacks through 13 weeks (13.5) behind Khalil Mack (15.0) and T.J. Watt (14.0). He leads the NFL in tackles for loss (18). The man stops the run as effectively as he terrorizes quarterbacks, and that cannot be ignored or discounted. Hunter does it all on defense.

Perhaps more importantly for his retention in 2024, Minnesota has two EDGE rushers under contract: Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II. Would you be enthused by those two men as the Vikings’ starting outside linebackers in 2023? Nope.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

No matter what— with or without Hunter — Minnesota will need an outside linebacker or two in free agency or the draft. If the Vikings let Hunter walk, they’d turn around and say, “Man, where am I going to get a good free-agent pass rusher?”

In that vein, it doesn’t make any sense at all to let Hunter hit the open market. The team will need EDGE defenders, and Hunter is — checks notes — one of those.

Last summer, Hunter told reporters he wanted to be a Viking forever. He wants to be in Minnesota, the team needs pass rushers, it didn’t trade him in October, and Hunter is a sure-fire Pro Bowler.

His return in 2024 and beyond is a slam dunk.


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.

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