Another Strange New Team Prediction for Danielle Hunter

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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.

Over the weekend, ESPN linked Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Danielle Hunter to the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars as possible free-agent destinations.

Another Strange New Team Prediction for Danielle Hunter

Hunter is scheduled to hit the open market in one month if the Vikings don’t extend his contract.

Strange New Team
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According to Bleacher Report, though, the Detroit Lions are a team to monitor in the would-be Hunter Sweepstakes. BR‘s David Kenyon analyzed the NFL’s top 10 free agents on Saturday and predicted the Lions as victors for Hunter’s services.

“Presuming the Vikings keep Cousins, their cap crunch might result in Danielle Hunter leaving on the open market. Worse yet, he might not travel far. Hunter has notched 10-plus sacks in five of his eight seasons and tallied a career-best 16.5 in 2023,” Kenyon wrote about Hunter to Detroit.

Future in Minnesota Should
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Hunter led the NFL in tackles for loss last season. He also accrued 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). Most consider 2023 the best of Hunter’s career, a convenient time for his next contract, whether from the Vikings, Lions, Bears, Jaguars, or another team.

Kenyon added, “His value, quite literally, has never been higher. While it’s bad (self-inflicted) financial timing for Minnesota, the NFC North-rival Detroit Lions are lurking with a major pass-rushing need. Losing him to anyone would pain the Vikings, but watching him leave for a division foe would only add to the sting.”

Rival Named as Possible
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Bleacher Report also forecasted a three-year deal worth $67 million for Hunter — $51 million of the contract guaranteed.

Hunter seemed less certain about his future with the Vikings than ever at the Pro Bowl eight days 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,” Hunter told about his upcoming free agency.

In previous interviews dating back to last summer, Hunter stated he wanted to remain in Minnesota for the rest of his career.

The Lions have Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal on tap as starting EDGE defenders in 2024. Detroit’s defense ranked 13th per DVOA last season, a 14-spot improvement from 27th in 2022.

If the Vikings do not re-sign Hunter, the franchise will need two starting outside linebackers from free agency or the draft. Only Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II are under contract in 2024 at the position, and neither is classified as a starter, at least not as of February 2024.

Detroit Lions fans chant “Let’s Go Lions!” as they wait to enter the concourse for the NFC championship game against San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

NFL free agency kicks off on March 11 with the “legal tampering” period. Hunter has played for the Vikings since 2015 and ranks sixth in Vikings history in sacks with 87.5.

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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