ESPN Has Curveball for Danielle Hunter’s Next Team

Does Pro Bowl
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Four-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter will become a free agent in three weeks, and sans an extension from the Minnesota Vikings, Hunter could sign anywhere in the NFL and continue his quarterback havoc elsewhere.

ESPN Has Curveball for Danielle Hunter’s Next Team

Minnesota scooped Hunter from the 2015 NFL Draft in Round 3, a magnificent pick that has paid dividends since.

Curveball for Danielle
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And according to ESPN, the Vikings are not the best team for Hunter in 2024 and beyond. That’s the Los Angeles Rams, a new squad inside the would-be Hunter Sweepstakes.

ESPN revealed the top landing spots for the league’s 50 best free agents on Tuesday, and when Matt Bowen arrived at Hunter on his list, the Rams were the destination. “The Rams have money to spend in free agency, and filling the edge rushing need should be a priority. Hunter’s 16.5 sacks with the Vikings in 2023 were the fifth most in the league, and he also forced four fumbles,” Bowen wrote.

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Hunter recorded a career year in 2023, his age-29 season, tabulating 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.

Bowen added, “Adding Hunter would give the Rams a productive veteran force opposite Byron Young — who had eight sacks as a rookie — with Aaron Donald on the interior. That’s how you upgrade a pass rush.”

Hunter Buzz
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Los Angeles ranked 22nd per defensive DVOA in 2023, so onboarding Hunter would help drag that stat closer to average or perhaps near the Top 10. Hunter’s next contract, from the Vikings, Rams, or elsewhere, will probably fetch between $22-$25 million per year.

The Rams ranked 14th per pass-rush win rate in 2023.

Hunter told about his upcoming free agency at the Pro Bowl a couple of weeks ago, “Just letting everything play its course. I did my job. Everything’s in my agent’s hands and my team — and whomever it is that’s out there. My job, like I said, is to do my job. And I’m gonna make sure I stay in shape and whatever is best available for me, I’ll take that.”

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He’d previously stated — a few times — that his goal was to remain a Viking for the rest of his career, but the Pro Bowl comments appeared to walk that stance back a bit.

Hunter also mentioned his 2023 campaign, “Just doing my job take pride in doing what I do. It wasn’t just me alone, my teammates, defensive coordinator put me in the best position to make plays for my team. Like I said, wish I could do more, like making us going to the playoffs.”

The Rams have about $28 million to spend in free agency, roughly $3 million more than Minnesota.

The NFL’s “legal tampering” free agency phase begins on March 11th.

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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