Vikings Employ Most Desired Trade Target in NFL

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In 2022, the Minnesota Vikings were buyers at the annual trade deadline because of a clear path to the postseason and acquired tight end T.J. Hockenson. One year later, a 2-4 record gives the franchise only an outside chance to play meaningful football in January. Therefore, the trade talks in both media and the fanbase have started. The Vikings have some tradeable players.

Vikings Employ Most Desired Trade Target in NFL

Of course, Kirk Cousins is the elephant in the room. He could upgrade the quarterback situation on many teams. The Falcons and the Jets could use his solid play to climb the ladder of contending teams. However, the veteran has a no-trade clause, putting any deal into jeopardy before talks even begin. But another player is viewed as a hot commodity.

Vikings Employ Most Desired Trade Target in NFL
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The talent on the defensive side of the ball has been an issue for years, but one guy keeps producing. Edge rusher Danielle Hunter continues to perform at a high level at age 28, so his trade value is relatively high for a player set to hit free agency in March.

Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox put together a trade big board with the ten most tradeable players in the NFL, and Hunter ranks at the top. He also provided a couple of potential trade destinations.

Minnesota pass-rusher Danielle Hunter has supplanted Burns for our No. 1 spot, based primarily on price point. Acquiring the 28-year-old from the 2-4 Vikings may not cost multiple high draft picks.

Hunter is eyeing his third contract but is still only 28 years old. He’s also extremely productive and has a league-high-tying eight sacks. He’ll also be a free agent in the spring.

Given his age and contract status, Hunter should interest both rebuilding teams—assuming they’re willing to make a long-term offer—and those looking to win now.

Houston is a team that could fit both categories. The Texans could certainly view Hunter as a future building block, but he could also help the team chase an AFC South title now. Houston has logged a mere nine sacks through six weeks.

The 3-3 Atlanta Falcons could fit into the latter group. Atlanta has flashed defensive potential and ranks fourth in total yards allowed. However, getting to opposing quarterbacks has been an issue, and the Falcons have a mere 10 sacks on the season.

Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report
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Hunter has been an excellent player for the Vikings ever since Rick Spielman pulled the trigger in the third round of the 2015 draft on the highly athletic but not very productive LSU defender. He blossomed into one of the league’s top pass rushers, a position that is extremely valuable in the day and age of explosive passing attacks all over the league.

He has been unhappy with his contract for a while now, and the Vikes gave him a raise to at least have him for the 2023 season before he is set to hit the open market in the spring. So far in the first season under defensive coordinator Brian Flores, Hunter has been fantastic on the field, producing a league-high eight sacks through six games.

HC Promises Deep Look
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Hunter has been to three straight Pro Bowls in seasons. He stayed healthy and had 39.5 sacks in those three campaigns. Missing the full 2020 and the majority of the 2021 seasons slowed down his record-breaking pace, but he bounced back and looks just as explosive as always.

So why would the Vikings even consider trading him? The answer is easy. They would likely lose him in free agency if they don’t and could get something for him in return, maybe even a first-round selection, by moving on now.

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On the flip side, Hunter’s departure would end all ambitions left in the building for the 2023 season and officially welcome the draft season. He is the team’s top defender, and without him, Flores will have a hard time fielding a solid unit, especially with Marcus Davenport suffering a high ankle sprain.

A trade will likely be on the table if the Vikings make their star player available. It all depends on the direction the decision-makers want to go. The trade deadline approaches after the Week 8 games, so the Vikings get another two games to see where the team is heading. Losses to the 49ers and Packers would end all playoff dreams, and star players could (or should) be made available.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt