Brian Flores Can Create a Danielle Hunter

Domino Quietly
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores chatting with Tatum Everett on February 15th, 2023. The Vikings hired Flores from the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was a linebackers coach for one season.

The Minnesota Vikings must decide who they will pay this offseason in free agency, and while the crux of that argument focuses on quarterback Kirk Cousins, extended wide receiver Justin Jefferson will get the bag as well. It may mean that edge rusher Danielle Hunter is headed elsewhere, but can Brian Flores create a replacement on defense?

Brian Flores Can Create a Danielle Hunter

Should the Vikings decide to pay Kirk Cousins, and when Justin Jefferson gets the money he is expected to receive, there may not be enough for Danielle Hunter. It’s fair that the talented edge rusher deserves to be paid. He is coming off the best season of his career, and while health has often been escaping him, he accomplished that in 2023 as well.

Flores can create
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The scary part about moving on from Hunter is that the cupboard would be bare for Minnesota. Marcus Davenport provided zero value last season, and D.J. Wonnum is both injured and a free agent. The Vikings will need to restock one of the most critical positions on an NFL roster, but if they’re going to do so, allowing a strong defensive coordinator in Brian Flores to work his magic should make things exciting.

While the NFL Draft focus for Minnesota has been on the quarterbacks they could take with the 11th overall pick, there has been plenty of consideration given to edge rushers as well. Dallas Turner and Jared Verse could be in play, and while first-round picks should be plug-and-play, there is still a wide gap between that and Hunter-like production.

Dallas Turner Is
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports.

There’s also the possibility that Minnesota seeks help from the free agent market, and there are more than a handful of talented edge rushers that could be brought in. Unlike last season, where Davenport was the only veteran acquired, it stands to reason that the Vikings may opt for two players to occupy both edges of the line. Expecting the franchise to target someone who may be undervalued for Flores to coach up makes a good deal of sense.

Flores has operated one of the most aggressive defenses in the league; each team he has led a group. His style puts significant pressure on the opposing offense, and bltizes are a near-certainty. Suppose an edge rusher looking to take the next step is allowed to play under Flores in Minnesota. In that case, there’s a possibility that they could benefit from other players around them going after the quarterback as well.

Flores Flourish
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Rather than just needing to win in one-on-one matchups, they would have an expanded opportunity to bring down the quarterback.

There shouldn’t be a significant surprise if whoever starts for the Vikings on the edges next season sees a career-high in sacks and tackles for loss.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.