Well, There’s a Familiar Danielle Hunter Snag.

The Vikings Top Defensive Performers vs. Lions, per PFF
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Welcome to a familiar saga — Danielle Hunter and Minnesota Vikings offseason contract dealings.

It’s here, and as most Vikings enthusiasts thoroughly expected, Hunter appears to be jostling for a contract extension or enhancement, a dialogue gracing Minnesota’s offseason plans for about four consecutive offseasons.

Well, There’s a Familiar Danielle Hunter Snag.

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.”

Familiar Danielle Hunter
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Hunter signed a big-at-the-time five-year, $72 million contract on June 28th, 2018, with former Vikings bossman Rick Spielman. Soon after, Hunter truly blossomed into a Top 10 NFL pass rusher, and as players’ salaries rose, the LSU alumnus’ contract became dinkier every year.

Fowler continued, “The Vikings value Hunter, who recorded 10.5 sacks last year despite scheme changes. So, it’s possible something could be worked out on the contract front.”

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A longtime staple of the Vikings defense, of course the franchise doesn’t want Hunter to depart. In 2020 and 2021, when Hunter succumbed to a neck injury and then torn pectoral muscle, Minnesota’s pass rush descended to the depths of hell without him. Those same injuries have made contract extension talks with his employer dicey since — “Is this man injury-prone?” became the new talker regarding Hunter.

Well, he silenced those naysayers last season, playing all 17 games and fully acclimating to a 3-4 defense for the first time in his career. When the 2022 season capped, Pro Football Focus determined Hunter was the league’s seventh-best EDGE rusher, more than enough oomph to propel him toward today’s development — the ask for a new deal.

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According to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, who appeared on the Mackey & Judd Show last week, Hunter should be the 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.

But others have been a bit more skeptical. The Viking Age’s Chris Schad wrote last week about a possible Vikings trade involving Hunter, “It’s unclear what Hunter’s trade value could be but perhaps last year’s trade that sent Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers could be a starting point. If the Vikings can get a haul similar to the second and sixth-round picks the Chicago Bears got in that deal, it might get it done. This could be especially attractive considering the Vikings don’t have a second-round pick after trading for T.J. Hockenson last October.”

If the Vikings indeed hit the bargaining table for Hunter, he’ll likely command between $20-25 million per year, the going rate for an EDGE rusher of his caliber.

The good news? In recent years, the Vikings and Hunter usually find a way to secure his services for the season at hand. But this time will likely involve an honest-to-goodness extension — a lucrative one.

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.