Latest Danielle Hunter Updates a Mixed Bag

Danielle Hunter
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Until an extension, trade, or bleeding-into-the-regular-season holdout occurs, Danielle Hunter’s status will dominate Minnesota Vikings dealings, at least for fans’ interest.

Minnesota hopes to fix a defense that ranked 30th in points allowed and 31st and yards allowed last year, and trading Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter, the team’s two best pass rushers, would be an odd way to do it. Minnesota traded Smith to the Cleveland Browns in May.

Latest Danielle Hunter Updates a Mixed Bag

Hunter is scheduled to earn just $5.5 million in ‘new money’ this season, an obvious point of contention for the player and his camp while winding down a team-friendly deal signed with former general manager Rick Spielman in 2018. Most expect Hunter to fetch $20-$25 million annually — from somewhere — by the time the regular season rolls around.

latest danielle
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And as of June 20th, Hunter’s status is a mixed bag, as some believe the silence regarding his situation is telling and that a trade is probable. Others maintain the Vikings simply can’t afford to let the best defender walk and improve a naughty defense at the same time.

KSTP’s Darren Wolfson spoke on the Hunter hullabaloo Sunday night and hinted a trade could be on the docket, “The Vikings have tried to extend him here or at least take care of him. They know he can’t play at $5 million. They’ve been trying to raise the base salary.”

Hunter Is a Litmus
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Wolfson continued, “What is the happy medium? How much money is he seeking? How far are the Vikings willing to go? The longer this thing goes — this thing is pointing toward a trade at this point.”

Hunter logged 65 total tackles, 22 quarterback hits, 12 tackles, and 10.5 sacks en route to an 86.3 Pro Football Focus grade and a Pro Bowl in 2022, his first healthy season since 2019. The spiffy PFF grade was the seventh-best leaguewide among EDGE rushers as Hunter acclimated to a 3-4 defense for the first time in his career. Minnesota will run a 3-4 again in 2023 but under a different storefront with Brian Flores in charge instead of Ed Donatell.

The Vikings Top Defensive Performers vs. Lions, per PFF
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So, Wolfson leaned toward trade with training camp about five weeks away, but appeared a bit more optimistic last week. Answering fans’ questions about Hunter — several of them — senior editor Craig Peters opined about Hunter, “The defense is changing again this year under new Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores. I’m sure Flores would like to design some things to maximize what Hunter has shown he can do as an elite edge rusher.”

“If players of his ability were super common, the top-dog edge rushers would not fetch the kind of contracts you see these days,” Peters added.

Danielle Hunter's Impact on Vikings Defense Is Flabbergasting
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The tug of war suggests the silent nature of Hunter’s situation is tunneling toward a trade, whereas Flores may not want to lose his best defender amid his first year in Minnesota.

The Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Jets, among other franchises, have been whispered as trading landing spots if the Vikings pull the trigger. Hunter is expected to retrieve a 2nd-Round draft pick, plus an extra mid-rounder, if traded solely for draft capital.

Hunter turns 29 in October.

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).

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