The Vikings’ Top Offseason Priority Is So Damn Obvious

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If the Minnesota Vikings want to finally draft a high-round quarterback in April — great. It’s about damn time.

But that isn’t the team’s top priority.

The Vikings’ Top Offseason Priority Is So Damn Obvious

As usual, the Vikings will have a lengthy offseason to-do list, but at the top of the document, re-signing Danielle Hunter must be scribbled.

Priority Is So
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Should the Vikings “do nothing” regarding Hunter’s contract, they’d head into the 2024 offseason with these two EDGE rushers under contract:

  • Patrick Jones
  • Andre Carter

And then that’s it.

Hunter Is
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That’s not enough juice for any NFL team on the edges of a defensive line, so to stay on par for normative defensive operations, Minnesota must re-sign Hunter in February or March. If it does not, it will be forced to sign a free agent outside linebacker, hoping that person mimics Hunter’s production — while drafting a rookie pass rusher, probably in Round 1 or 2 of April’s draft.

The good news? Hunter wants to remain in Minnesota. There is no mystery about it; the climb is not uphill. In July, after renegotiating his 2023 contract, a one-year stopgap, Hunter told reporters, “I want to be a Viking forever.”

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This is what Kirk Cousins always says, too, so heading into a momentous offseason, the Vikings have their top two free agents as men who don’t want to leave. It’s a good spot, at least for introductory talks.

The price? Well, the conversation gets dicey. Hunter is 29 and will turn 30 next October. Thankfully, EDGE rushers aren’t like running backs, for example, whose careers tumble at age 28 more often than not. Players like Hunter can thrive well into their 30s, meaning any age-related reservations regarding Hunter’s next contract should be moot. He won’t decline during his age-30 season.

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Hunter has played at a Top 3 caliber per his position in 2023, hinting his next deal will fetch around $30 million annually. That isn’t cheap, but it’s the price to pay for a standout outside linebacker — especially for a club beginning an offseason with zero starting-caliber pass rushers.

Because Minnesota is down to nubbins at Hunter’s position once the offseason kicks off, it makes the most sense to extend Hunter by three years, explore a cheaper EDGE like D.J. Wonnum or a different free agent, and draft one in Round 2 or 4 in four months. Most believe the Vikings will use their 1st-Round draft pick on a quarterback, and the next pick could reasonably be spent on a pass rusher.

If the Vikings had no plans to extend Hunter after 2023, they should’ve traded Hunter around Halloween this year. He would’ve fetched a 2nd-Round draft pick or so. Yet, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah did not, indicating Hunter will likely return for a few years.

The Vikings need Hunter and 2024, and he wants to stay with the franchise forever. Pretty cut and dried.

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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