ESPN Has Frightening Prediction for Vikings Offseason

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings set sail on the 2024 offseason with two EDGE rushers under contract: Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter.

And then that’s it.

ESPN Has Frightening Prediction for Vikings Offseason

Pro Bowl outside linebacker Danielle Hunter is scheduled to hit free agency, and if that occurs, Minnesota will need two starting outside linebackers unless it has odd and bold plans for Jones II and Carter II to outfit the starting lineup in 2024.

ESPN Has Frightening
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

And according to ESPN, the Vikings could let Hunter walk in March and start at zero on the OLB section of the depth chart. The sports media giant posted an article this week about every team outside of the postseason, complete with roster needs, priorities, and predictions.

For Minnesota, it was sayonara to Hunter. “The Vikings will allow edge rusher Danielle Hunter to leave in free agency despite the fact he set a career-high with 16.5 sacks in 2023,” Aaron Schatz declared.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Hunter joined the Vikings in 2015 and, in fact, is the last great defensive player drafted by the purple team.

Schatz added, “Hunter’s cost will be too expensive going into his age-30 season (likely over $20 million per year), and Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will look to get younger on defense.”

ESPN is correct about the pricetag. Hunter will cost more than $20 million per season if he doesn’t take a humanitarian discount and should command closer to $25 million, if not more. Hunter finished fifth in sacks this season, trailing T.J. Watt (19.0), Trey Hendrickson (17.5), Josh Allen (17.5), and Khalil Mack (17.0).

Hope to Avoid Doomsday
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Thankfully for the Vikings sake — the ESPN prediction be damned — Hunter wants to return with the Vikings for a 10th season. Reporters asked Hunter on Monday if we wanted to stay in Minnesota. He replied succinctly, “Yes, sir.”

If the Vikings [strangely] weren’t interested in prolonging Hunter’s stay, he’d command the utmost interest in free agency. General managers salivate over productive pass rushers, and 16.5 sacks in a single season don’t grow on trees. What’s more, 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.

“I went out there, did what I was told to do. I was excited about how I played this year,” Hunter about mentioned his performance this season.

The Vikings have about $37 million in available cap space as of January 9th.

Hunter Trade Rumpus
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter concluded about his future, “It’s all I know. I came into this league. I don’t know any better. Purple. Ever since middle school, I’ve always been wearing purple. I’m here now. Purple.”

So, something’s gotta give: Either Hunter gets his wish and stays in Minnesota, or ESPN is correct.

NFL free agency begins on March 11th with “legal tampering.”


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 OverTheCap.com.

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