The Danielle Hunter Trade Talk Became More Real Saturday

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Early in June, reports leaked indicating NFL teams believed Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Danielle Hunter was available via trade.

Hunter was absent from mandatory minicamp seven weeks ago, holding out for a contract extension.

The Danielle Hunter Trade Talk Became More Real Saturday

But then nothing happened, and Hunter arrived at Vikings training camp this week for a ‘hold-in,’ where he was physically present in Eagan but won’t participate in any actual football-related activities.

The Danielle Hunter Trade Talk Became More Real Saturday
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Well, the plot thickened Saturday with one tweet from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The Hunter contractual standoff is allegedly at a stalemate, and a trade could become the eventual solution.

Fowler tweeted, “Sources from multiple teams say the Vikings have been open to trading Pro Bowl DE Danielle Hunter should sides fail to reach an extension. Hunter does not want to play on $4.9M salary, and sides have not made enough progress on a deal.”

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Hunter’s ‘new money’ is the problem, prompting the Pro Bowl EDGE rusher to want a new deal, a circumstance that persisted for about four consecutive offseasons. He signed a five-year extension in 2018 with former Vikings boss Rick Spielman, blossomed into superstardom shortly after signing the deal, and began nibbling at another extension about 3-4 years ago.

Then, Hunter missed all of the 2020 season with a neck injury, half of the 2021 campaign with a torn pectoral muscle, and returned to full health last year when he played all 17 games and logged 10.5 sacks.

Danielle Hunter Trade Rumors
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Hunter also acclimated to a 3-4 defense for the first time last year and graded as the seventh-best EDGE rusher in the business, per Pro Football Focus. Alas, he has a leg to stand on when asking for a large new contract.

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 assets, not subtracting them.

Danielle Hunter Is Back — Sort Of
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But if Hunter’s camp and the Vikings brass can’t come to an agreement, a trade may be the only remaining resolution. Hunter would likely fetch a 2nd-Round draft pick and a mid-to-late round pick via trade if the swap involved draft capital only.

Earlier this week, Vikings fans noticed Hunter ‘followed’ the Jacksonville Jaguars on Instagram, and some pinpointed that club as a possible trade destination.

Hunter turns 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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