The Danielle Hunter Saga Has New Timetable

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Nothing is more vital at the moment to the Minnesota Vikings 2023 regular season than Danielle Hunter’s contract extension situation.

The Pro Bowl EDGE rusher wants a new contract — probably worth $20-$25 million per season — and held out of mandatory minicamp in June to prove his earnestness.

The Danielle Hunter Saga Has New Timetable

And according to KSTP‘s Darren Wolfson, extension or trade talks surrounding Hunter will accelerate this week.

Danielle Hunter Saga
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The Vikings traded Hunter’s pass-rushing teammate, Za’Darius Smith, in May, and it would sure seem backward to offload the franchise’s top two sack merchants from 2022 in an effort to improve the 2023 defense. Minnesota ranked 27th per defensive DVOA last season, 30th in points allowed, and 31st in yards allowed. In theory, the club should be adding or retaining more pass-rushing beef, not subtracting.

Wolfson said on The Mackey & Judd Show late last week, “I think things are going to ramp up next week. Lot of the Vikings’ people are trickling back into town. I think next week is going to be a relatively active week.”

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Those musings from Wolfson occurred on July 13th, so the Hunter timetable is allegedly now.

“Don’t know if talk will turn into action, but I do think there’s going to be a good amount of heavy dialogue next week,” he added.

Vikings Superstar to
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The Vikings drafted Hunter in 2015, a 3rd-Round selection from a tremendous class that featured Eric Kendricks and Stefon Diggs. Hunter clawed his way up the depth chart by 2017 and netted an impressive-at-the-time extension from former Vikings boss Rick Spielman in 2018.

Thereafter, though, Hunter blossomed into total stardom — right after signing the extension — and his deal has seemed more team-friendly by the minute since. The LSU alumnus later missed all of the 2020 pandemic season due to a neck injury and half of 2021 with a torn pectoral muscle. Seeking an extension — akin to his request now — never panned out during the 2021 and 2022 offseasons because Minnesota wasn’t sure if his career was becoming derailed by injury.

The 2022 Vikings, According to All National Power Rankings: Week 7
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) pressures Miami Dolphins quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) during the third quarter of an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Oct. 16, 2022. © JIM RASSOL/THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Hunter then showed up to the 2022 season, adeptly acclimated to a 3-4 defense for the first time, played all 17 games, and graded as the NFL’s seventh-best EDGE rusher per Pro Football Focus. He answered all lingering questions and demanded a new deal this spring and summer accordingly.

Now, Vikings fans wonder if Hunter fits inside general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s ‘competitive rebuild’ plan. He’ll turn 29 in August, and $20-$25 million annually is a handsome pricetag for a franchise threading the needle of contending and rebuilding. If Hunter is extended, the Vikings are erring on the side of contending in 2023. With a trade, it’s a safe assumption that Minnesota is teetering on the rebuild side of the competitive rebuild.

Should Hunter get traded this summer, the Vikings should fetch a 2nd-Rounder and an additional mid-to-late-round pick if the deal involves draft capital only. Otherwise, Adofo-Mensah would likely need a prominent EDGE defender in exchange for Hunter to puts fans’ anxiety about the 2023 defense at rest.

On the whole, per Wolfson, those conversations about Hunter’s extension or trade are ongoing or will resume at any minute.

Vikings training camp begins Sunday with rookies reporting to Eagan.

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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