Vikings Superstar to Hold Out of Minicamp

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to June — when holdouts from NFL players generate the most noise and drama.

And the Minnesota Vikings have their own semi-official form of rumpus — an impending holdout by outside linebacker Danielle Hunter.

Vikings Superstar to Hold Out of Minicamp

The Pro Bowl pass rusher is scheduled to earn just $5.5 million in ‘new contract money’ this season, a paycheck not viewed favorably by Hunter or his representation.

Vikings Superstar to
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings mandatory minicamp kicks off on Tuesday, and according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Hunter will be absent sans a contract extension. Pelissero tweeted, “Three-time Pro Bowl DE Danielle Hunter plans to skip the Vikings’ mandatory minicamp, per sources. The sides haven’t seen eye-to-eye on a new contract. Ian Rapoport reported Minnesota has received trade calls, and now one of the NFL’s top pass rushers is officially a holdout.”

So, holdout season has arrived.

Vikings vs. Cardinals — a High Scoring Game like Last Year?
Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

Last Friday, as mentioned by Pelissero, Rapoport thickened the Vikings-Hunter plot with this tweet, “Here is my understanding of where it stands. Sources say that teams have been calling the Minnesota Vikings regarding Danielle Hunter. He has in fact generated some trade interest.”

The tweet sparked a firestorm of Vikings-themed debate among fans, with some arguing a Hunter trade would symbolize a full team rebuild in 2023. Others mentioned the free-agent acquisitions of Marcus Davenport (OLB) and Byron Murphy (CB) as firm evidence that Minnesota is ‘in it to win it’ in 2023, in addition to last November’s trade for tight end T.J. Hockenson. Rebuilding teams don’t trade 2nd-Round draft picks for tight ends.

Regardless of the undying rebuild vs. all-in conversation, Hunter’s probable absence from minicamp would be noteworthy because it would legitimize the Rapoport tweet about a trade. Holdouts end in four ways — contract extension, trade, release, or full regular season holdout.

3 Vikings Players to Watch at Packers
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) warms up during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Plus, by almost all accounts, via fans and experts, Hunter is the Vikings best defensive player, so limping into the 2023 season without the top defender while attempting to rectify the NFL’s second-worst defense via yards allowed in 2022 would be a bit backward.

Per average annual value, Hunter is the league’s 15th highest-paid EDGE rusher as of June 12th, earning $14.4 million per season. Yet, the 28-year-old likely desires a Top 5 payday and more ‘new money’ flowing. Hunter has basically played out a contract he signed with former Vikings GM Rick Spielman in 2018.

Whether from the Vikings or a team to be named later, Hunter is expected to fetch $20+ million annually with his next contract.

If Hunter holds out beyond the summer or is traded, the Vikings would pivot to some combination of Marcus Davenport, Patrick Jones, D.J. Wonnum, or rookie Andre Carter II for pass-rushing duties. Free-agent pass rushers Yannick Ngakoue, Justin Houston, and Robert Quinn are also available.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by