One Viking Remains in Trade Rumor Mill

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The Minnesota Vikings absolutely need a win this weekend at the 0-3 Carolina Panthers to attempt a resurrection.

The club has started 0-3 out of the gate, dampening hope about reaching the postseason after a 13-4 season one year ago. Only six teams in NFL history have turned an 0-3 start into a playoff appearance.

One Viking Remains in Trade Rumor Mill

Minnesota hasn’t started a season with an 0-4 record since 2011, a campaign led at quarterback by Donovan McNabb and then-rookie passer Christian Ponder.

If the Vikings follow suit on Sunday and drop to 0-4, cries for change, plus trade theories, will become deafening. In addition to wild ideas about a Kirk Cousins trade, some speculate outside linebacker Danielle Hunter could depart, too.

Remains in Trade
Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

Hunter ranks second in the NFL in sacks through three games, trailing Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt by one. He’s also scheduled for free agency in 5.5 months, so in theory, if the Vikings were to conduct a fire sale with an 0-4 record or worse, Hunter could be on the block.

Bleacher Report has included Hunter in its trade rumor mill for a few weeks, and the 28-year-old has not left after Minnesota’s sorrowful start. BR’s Kristopher Knox ranked Hunter at No. 3 on his trade-block list and explained, “It’s time for the 0-3 Vikings to start panicking. Minnesota continues to hurt itself with dumb mistakes and costly turnovers, and its defense just isn’t very good. The Vikings need to start stringing together wins, or they’ll need to start looking ahead to 2024.”

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Knox nominated the Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders as landing spots for Hunter.

“Minnesota considered trading pass-rusher Danielle Hunter early in the offseason, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, before working out a revised one-year deal. That contract prohibits the Vikings from using the franchise tag on him in 2024, so now might be the time for the team to cash in via a trade. The 28-year-old would bring a strong return. He amassed 10.5 sacks in 2022 and already has five through the first three weeks of 2023,’ Knox continued.

Lottery Ticket QB
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Through three games, Hunter is virtually the Vikings only pass rushing source, with reservist players like D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones struggling to fill the void left by newcomer free agent Marcus Davenport, who is hobbled by an ankle injury.

Knox concluded about the Browns and Raiders as theoretical trade partners for Hunter, “If the Browns want to continue building up their impressive defense, they would be a sensible landing spot. Cleveland added former Vikings Za’Darius Smith and Dalvin Tomlinson this offseason and has the second-most cap space in the league. If the Raiders believe they can get back into the playoff picture, they may also be interested in Hunter. Las Vegas has the sixth-most cap space in the NFL and has recorded just five sacks through three weeks.”

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Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) warms up during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s probably more likely, on the whole, that the Vikings turn this season around to some degree of respectability and hence ixnay any blossoming Hunter trade rumors. Minnesota did this in 2020, starting a season 0-3, but flipped the script after a bye week and reached .500 by early December.

However, a loss at the Panthers on Sunday might expedite the team’s “competitive rebuild” strategy and cause general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to explore a trade involving a player like Hunter.

Minnesota could likely fetch a 2nd-Round or 3rd-Round draft pick and change for Hunter.

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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