Beloved Viking Formally Says Goodbye

Use Unusual Tactic
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Danielle Hunter left the purple team last week after nine seasons as a Viking, joining his hometown Houston Texans.

Beloved Viking Formally Says Goodbye

Fans wondered if Hunter would re-up in Minnesota, a talker that dominated early offseason headlines in addition to Kirk Cousins’ status. In the end, both men left, with Hunter to Houston and Cousins to Atlanta.

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But soon after signing with the Texans, Hunter made sure to say goodbye to Vikings fans. He used Instagram for the occasion: “To Purple Nation, the city of Minneapolis, and to Vikings fans everywhere — I am grateful for your unwavering support and commitment over the past nine years. And last but certainly not least, to all of my teammates and coaches: I appreciate you all more than you know. We have created some incredible moments and memories together that I will never forget! I will deeply miss this organization and fan base.”

Hunter also shouted out the team’s leaders, “To the Wilf family, GM Rick Spielman, Coach Mike Zimmer, Rob Brzezinski and the Vikings organization: Thank you for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime! I will be forever grateful. To GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Coach O’Connell, Coach Flores, Derik Keyes and the entire Vikings Training and Support Staff – thank you. Your guidance and continued support through the years were greatly appreciated.”

Defender Earns Sweet
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The veteran defender signed a two-year, $49 million deal and will now wreak havoc in the AFC. The Vikings reportedly had a deal on the table for Hunter similar to what he ultimately signed in Houston, but when he didn’t accept it to start free agency, Minnesota acted, signing Jonathan Greenard from the Texans and Andrew Van Ginkel of the Miami Dolphins. There was no time to waste if Minnesota wanted starting EDGE rushers. Waiting for Hunter could’ve turned deadly for roster construction.

In the end, the Vikings essentially swapped Hunter for Greenard, landing Greenard at a better value and three years Hunter’s junior.

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Down in Texas, Hunter will now form a ferocious pass-rushing duo with last year’s rookie Will Anderson. Without Hunter in 2023, Houston ranked third leaguewide per ESPN’s pass-rush win rate metric. So, adding Hunter will spell double trouble for the AFC South.

Hunter joined the Vikings in 2015 as a 3rd-Round pick and didn’t take long to blossom. He earned a starter’s job by 2017, his third year as a pro, replacing Brian Robison, and never looked back. In 2023, Hunter was the Vikings’ most consistent defensive player in a season when the defense, on the whole, was a total rollercoaster. The club began 2023 with a terrible first three games, became one of the best defenses in football from Weeks 4 through 14, and bottomed out at the worst possible time during the season’s final four games.

All together last season, Hunter banked a career year, his age-29 campaign, totaling 16.5 sacks, a career-high. That mark also ranked fifth leaguewide, trailing T.J. Watt (19.0), Trey Hendrickson (17.5), Josh Allen (17.5), and Khalil Mack (17.0). He also led the NFL in tackles for loss.

Danielle Hunter Is Back — Sort Of
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The soon-to-be 30-year-old should have no problem whatsoever catching on in Houston, especially with the aforementioned Anderson on the same defensive line along with head coach DeMeco Ryans’ tutelage.

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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