Danielle Hunter’s Potential Trade Value Comes to Light

Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter
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Danielle Hunter is not planning to join the Vikings for the mandatory minicamp on Tuesday and Wednesday after skipping the OTAs. He is not happy with his contract and has every reason for it.

The Vikings are reportedly taking calls from other teams who want to make a move for the star defender, but it could take a while until a solution is found.

Danielle Hunter’s Potential Trade Value Comes to Light

Trade Value Comes to Light
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Hunter is under contract for one more season. He signed a five-year $72 million deal in 2018, and when the salaries rose in the following years, he was already locked up. A similar situation to the current unhappiness happened last year, but the Vikings moved some of the remaining money up, which leaves him at only a $5.5 million salary in 2023, an absurd number for a Pro Bowl-caliber player at a premium position.

The trade rumors started last week when Ian Rapoport reported, “Sources say that teams have been calling the Minnesota Vikings regarding Danielle Hunter. He has, in fact, generated some trade interest. This is something we’ve heard rumors about for the last several months.”

“My understanding is the interest is pretty serious. Now the Vikings have tried to make this work, they’ve tried to do kind of a bandaid-type deal to compensate him for 2023 and then we’ll see after this. A trade probably would’ve been a lot easier before the draft because then the Vikings would’ve been able to replace him. Much more difficult now, but these conversations are happening, and we will see where they end up,” Rapoport added.

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According to Kevin Seifert from ESPN, many teams have monitored the situation, but there haven’t been any serious trade talks.

One of Seifert’s colleagues at ESPN, Jeremy Fowler, added some more info on Twitter. After checking with some teams, Hunter has “real trade value” and would cost at least a second-round draft pick. He also added that the Vikings would prefer to keep their defender.

Keeping him would mean that the two parties must find some common ground and agree to a new contract because Hunter is rightfully not playing for just $5.5 million in 2023. A new agreement will be expensive for a franchise whether he signs it with the Vikings or a different team.

Hunter likely commands a contract north of $20 million annually, deservedly so, which would rank him 7th among edge rushers tied with Von Miller, trailing other stars T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa, Myles Garrett, Maxx Crosby, Khalil Mack, and Bradley Chubb. If he commands $25 million, he would rank 3rd. It should also be noted that Nick Bosa is likely to sign a new deal with the 49ers soon, and he should be paid in the top 3 as well.

HC Promises Deep Look
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The Vikings’ three-time Pro Bowler produced 71 sacks in his career, including a total of 39.5 in his last three fully-healthy seasons. In 2021, Hunter still managed to record 6 sacks in only 7 games.

According to PFF, the defender ranked in the top 10 in QB pressures and QB hurries in the 2022 season among edge rushers. He also ranked in the top 20 in pass rush win percentage and racked up 10.5 sacks. Additionally, Hunter is an excellent run defender, as he had the 13th-best run-stop percentage of all edge defenders with at least 200 run-defense snaps. Hunter fired up all of that production despite having to learn a new position and some different techniques after the defense switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

The Vikings certainly want to keep their best defender but not at every price. After Dalvin Cook’s release, the organization has some cap space – roughly $17.8 million – for the first time in years, and they could use it on a Hunter extension.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Moving on from the pass rusher would make the team worse, a team currently trying to overhaul the bad defensive unit, and it would not fit the competitive part of the often-stated plan to do a competitive rebuild. Backups D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones are a huge downgrade from Hunter, who can make life a lot easier for the young defensive back group.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is a numbers guy, and he now has to figure out if Hunter’s contributions plus the new salary are worth more than the trade compensation they can get in return for him and the additional cap space in future years. Of course, the draft picks could help to make a move for the next franchise quarterback in the 2024 draft.

Everything is on the table at this point, and it might take a few more months until we know what the Vikes will do.

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