Vikings Top Defender Still Listed as Trade Target

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The Minnesota Vikings embark on the 2023 regular season in four days, head coach Kevin O’Connell’s second season in charge.

Vikings Top Defender Still Listed as Trade Target

Right after the start of training camp, Minnesota’s front office reworked Danielle Hunter’s contract by giving him a giant pay raise worth up to $20 million for the 2023 campaign. Until the new deal was settled, Hunter lived in the NFL’s trade rumor mill. And according to some, he hasn’t quite left.

Thanks to Bleacher Report’s piece, Hunter is evidently still very much on the trade block, as BR’s Kristopher Knox listed Hunter as one of his 10 trade candidates entering the regular season.

Defender Still Listed
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To set the table, some NFL brains believed Hunter would be traded before the recent agreement with the Vikings. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said in July, shortly after the new deal was reached, “There were definitely times over the course of the last couple of months where I personally thought Hunter would be traded, but he’s not going anywhere and stays with the Vikings. A big win for the organization.”

Rapoport doesn’t typically float opinions without substantiation, so perhaps the Vikings had open ears regarding Hunter’s trade value.

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The Bleacher Report theory must operate under the pretense that Minnesota will struggle to start the 2023 season, and then perhaps Hunter will be gettable for other teams via trade. It’s the only thing that makes sense for the trade of the team’s best defender.

Knox explained the Hunter trade theory and listed the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns as buyers, “Trading Hunter would save $11.5 million off the 2023 salary cap. That’s money Minnesota could put toward extending superstar receiver Justin Jefferson. Hunter is coming off a 10.5-sack campaign, and at 28 years old, he should interest rebuilding teams and contenders alike.”

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No person associated with the Vikings has hinted that Hunter is available for trade, nor have fans really pondered his exit after the renegotiated one-year deal.

“The Browns, who added both Tomlinson and Smith this offseason, could look to bring in another Viking if they believe a deep playoff run is possible. The Houston Texans could look at Hunter as a long-term piece as they enter the dawn of their latest rebuild,” Knox continued.

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In theory, a trade to the Brown would reunite Hunter with 2022 pass-rushing teammate Za’Darius Smith.

Knox concluded about the Texans angle, “New head coach DeMeco Ryans has a defensive background and should be eager to solidify that side of the ball. Adding and extending Hunter would give Houston another capable edge-rushing option to pair with third overall pick Will Anderson Jr.”

A Hunter trade — unless the Vikings start the season 1-5 or so — is severely unlikely. Hunter also told reporters at training camp this summer, “I want to be a Viking forever.”

Knox also listed players like Derrick Henry (RB, Titans), Chase Young (EDGE, Commanders), and Mike Evans (WR, Buccaneers) as potentially available for trade.

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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