Vikings and Texans Virtually Swap Defenders

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings added some firepower to a defense that definitely needed the infusion of talent. Kirk Cousins moved to Atlanta, Sam Darnold will replace him in the starting lineup until a potential rookie quarterback can take over. Star defender Danielle Hunter was the second major domino to fall, he found a new team.

Vikings and Texans Virtually Swap Defenders

Vikings and Texans Virtually Swap Defenders
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Hunter, a 2015 third-round prospect chosen by former general manager Rick Spielman, will spend his next two seasons in the league in Houston, joining the rising team led by head coach Demeco Ryans and quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Tom Pelissero broke the news: “Four-time Pro Bowl DE Danielle Hunter is signing with the Texans, sources tell me and Ian Rapoport. Agent Zeke Sandhu with Klutch Sports negotiated to deal for Hunter, who has 87.5 career sacks and is still only 29.”

His departure left a large void in the outside linebacker group but GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah didn’t hesitate at all, immediately signing the two pass-rushers Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports.

The latter joined from the Miami Dolphins, he knows Minnesota’s defensive coordinator Brian Flores because he drafted him as the head coach in Miami. Greenard, meanwhile, was virtually swapped for Hunter as he played his four career seasons in Houston.

Hunter is way more accomplished in the NFL than Greenard as his sack totals and accolades show. The longtime Viking has tabulated 87.5 sacks in his nine years with the Vikings, despite missing the full 2020 campaign because of the infamous tweak that turned out to be a herniated disc.

Greenard’s career sack total is 23. Hunter logged 16.5 sacks in 2023 alone. He is also a four-time Pro Bowler and was named second-team All-Pro in 2018. It is fair to say that he was snubbed a few times. Greenard’s resume doesn’t include any NFL honors but he is coming off his breakout season.

Danielle Hunter
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) is sacked hard by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) in the second quarter of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The compensation the two players received does represent that level of past production to some extent. According to Adam Schefter, Hunter agreed to these terms: “Danielle Hunter to the Texans on a two-year, $49 million deal, including $48 million guaranteed, per source. The deal has a max value of $51 million.”

Greenard’s deal is a four-year $76 million contract. Depending on incentives, the Vikings save annually about $5 million. Another advantage of the swap is that Greenard is almost three years younger. There is a good chance Greenard will be playing at a high level for a couple of extra years.

for the Vikings OLB
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

Considering the stages each franchise seems to be in, it makes sense for the Vikings to grab the younger and cheaper player as they are trying to compete for a Super Bowl, hopefully with a young star quarterback, in a year or two. The Texans, meanwhile, have already found that passer and need to take advantage of his rookie contract. Production now matters more than future performance a few years down the road.

Hunter spent all nine years of his NFL career wearing the purple uniforms. Fans watched him grow from an athletic project into one of the elite edge defenders in the NFL. He produced 87.5 sacks, 462 tackles, 108 tackles for loss, and forced 11 fumbles in 119 games (90 starts).

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt