2 Popular Vikings Missing from Voluntary Workouts

Vikings O-Lineman Out for Remainder of Regular Season
Jun 11, 2019; Eagan, MN, USA; A Minnesota Vikings helmet sits on the field at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings hosted voluntary workouts Monday, an annual tradition for NFL teams around this time on the calendar.

The 2023 NFL Draft transpires in 10 days, and the club has long-term roster needs at cornerback, wide receiver, off-ball linebacker, and arguably quarterback.

2 Popular Vikings Missing from Voluntary Workouts

And as the team will undergo a mini-facelift during the draft, the contract statuses of Danielle Hunter and Dalvin Cook remain unsolved. Coincidentally, neither man was at the voluntary workout sessions.

Danielle Hunter

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweeted Monday morning, just 10 days before the 2023 NFL Draft, “Vikings DE Danielle Hunter is not expected to attend the start of Minnesota’s voluntary offseason program, per sources. The absence is likely due to his contract — he’s set to make $4.9M in the last year of his deal, well below market for a three-time Pro Bowler.”

And that’s that on Hunter, at least for now, regarding his contract.

2 Popular Vikings
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) tackles New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Per KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, who appeared on the Mackey & Judd Show last week, Hunter should be a defensive centerpiece for the upcoming season, “I did hear that Brian Flores is really really pumped up to coach Danielle; that Danielle, it’s mutual, is pumped up to play under Brian Flores.”

“So, do the Vikings find a way to give him some sort of bump, extend him? I think that will play out come May and June, maybe into July,” Wolfson concluded.

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Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) warms up before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Hunter was the NFL’s seventh-best EDGE rusher in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s the Vikings best defensive player — and it’s not too debatable — so it would be rather odd to cut ties with such a talent, especially at age 28.

Still, Hunter will command $20-25 million per year via his next contract. Vikings fans are now on Hunter Watch to determine if that salary is paid out by Minnesota.

Dalvin Cook

Another franchise stalwart, Cook’s future is less clear. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said last week on SportsCenter, “I’m told all options are on the table here and that he could be released closer to the draft if things don’t work out. They had talked to at least one team about a trade in the past closer to free agency, so he is certainly a name to watch.”

The Vikings RB1 also hosted a fishing tournament over the weekend, perhaps logistically preventing his appearance in Eagan this week.

Cook logged 1,173 rushing yards in 2022 — including a few game-changing, gigantic rushing touchdowns — but his per-carry and yards-over-expected dipped as Minnesota’s offensive line was often hindered by injuries. Cook will turn 28 this summer, and his $14.1 million cap hit may not be conducive to general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s vision for the team.

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Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs with the ball for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

At the Vikings pre-draft press conference on April 13th, a reporter asked Adofo-Mensah about Cook’s future, and he replied, “Conversations are always ongoing with him. We’re trying to be solution-oriented always, trying to put the roster together within our constraints.”

Cook’s agent, Zach Hiller, said on the Caps Off Podcast last week, “People are starting to realize, Dalvin averages 107 yards per game, he has Hall of Fame numbers, but he’s been in Minnesota, they’ve been mediocre, and, like, he actually has incredible statistics.”

Friendly to Dalvin
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) warms up before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

“Also, he’s been playing with one shoulder. Like, purposely — and this is part of the business — purposely he’s been turning certain ways thinking about the fact that he’s about to get hit and not necessarily trying to land on his shoulder,” Hiller surmised.

Teammate K.J. Osborn said about Cook’s absence from voluntary workouts, “That’s the NFL. He’s going through whatever his situation is. He’s handling it the best that he can. I just leave that stuff for the people upstairs, and I’m sure it will work out.”

Cook could also be traded for a mid-to-late-round pick if the Vikings find a dance partner.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.