Vikings Fans Predict Danielle Hunter’s Fate

Aug 27, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The single most hot-button item lingering in the Minnesota Vikings orbit involves outside linebacker Danielle Hunter.

The three-time Pro Bowler desires a contract extension and was absent from mandatory minicamp two weeks ago to state his case.

Vikings Fans Predict Danielle Hunter’s Fate

Hunter remaining in Minnesota is truly a coinflip, as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah may not prefer paying a 28-year-old defender with injury history a contract worth $20+ million per season. The man is undoubtedly worth the pricetag, but it is unclear if Hunter fits within Adofo-Mensah’s ‘competitive rebuild’ plan for the Vikings.

Vikings Fans Predict
Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) following the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings fans, however, don’t believe the LSU alumnus is going anywhere. Last week, we polled Vikings Twitter, a hotbed of Vikings enthusiasts, for a Hunter prediction, and 55% opined that Hunter would remain purple.

The poll was unscientific, and 519 folks responded.

The Vikings 2022 Defense by the Numbers: After Week 9
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) sacks Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

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.

Last week, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson spoke on the Hunter unrest and indicated 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.”

Feb 4, 2023; Paradise, NV, USA; NFC linebacker Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings (99) during practice at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

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.”

The Vikings would likely bank a 2nd-Round draft pick and change for Hunter. He’d fetch a 1st-Rounder if he were a few years younger, but a trade sum in 2023 would probably be a 2nd-Rounder and a 4th-Rounder (or so) if the hypothetical trade involves draft capital only.

Vikings vs. Cardinals — a High Scoring Game like Last Year?
Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs the ball against Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) in the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

Trading Hunter, though, wouldn’t align with attempting to win a Super Bowl. Should Hunter join another team via trade, Minnesota may very well have 2024 and beyond as the goal in mind. The Vikings can’t expect to keep up a division-winning personality by trading Hunter and Za’Darius Smith away from the league’s 30th-ranked defense (points allowed) in 2022. A team doesn’t improve a rancid defense by offloading the two best pass rushers. It just doesn’t work that way.

And that’s probably why fans believe Hunter will stay in Minneapolis, as the organization has repeated its goal to win a Super Bowl this season. Face-of-the-frachise wide receiver Justin Jefferson — who is waiting on a contract extension of his own — told reporters at minicamp, “I love being around the guys. I love being around the team. We want to win the Super Bowl this year.”

Hunter will turn 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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