Vikings Rival Reportedly Wanted Danielle Hunter

Are Evaluators Not Watching Danielle Hunter?
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Five months ago, the Minnesota Vikings’ 2023 season was going nowhere fast, sitting at 1-4 after an October loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Rumors of a “fire sale” spread rapidly, and players like Danielle Hunter were tossed into the fray.

Vikings Rival Reportedly Wanted Danielle Hunter

Ultimately, Minnesota turned the season around by Halloween, although a season-ending injury to Kirk Cousins put the clamps on the Vikings’ rejuvenated hopes. The big-name players stayed put, and now, two of those men, Hunter and Cousins, and are scheduled to hit free agency next week.

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.

As it turns out, according to The 33rd Team, the Detroit Lions were reportedly one of the trade suitors for Hunter, who finished last season with 16.5 sacks and led the NFL in tackles for loss.

“One of the teams that did give Minnesota a call were their division rival Detroit Lions. Those two teams did do a trade previously with T.J. Hockenson. They didn’t do it this time. I would keep an eye on them as well,” The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov said on Wednesday.

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Why is this relevant? Well, if the Lions wanted Hunter in October, they could be at the top of the list for his services next week. Detroit has about $49 million to spend in free agency, and Hunter will likely command about $20-$25 million from some franchise when free agency kicks off in four days.

Otherwise, the Vikings could re-up with Hunter and continue his employment in Minnesota, a relationship already spanning nine seasons. Hunter has stated a few times in the last year that he’d like to remain a Viking for life, but when the rubber hits the road next week, we shall see how serious his commitment is, with the market for his services expected to be plentiful.

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

Hunter told about his upcoming free agency at the Pro Bowl, “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.”

And those sounded like musings from a man who was open to leaving.

Rival Named as Possible
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If not the Vikings or Lions, the NFL’s rumor mill has linked Hunter to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams in the last few weeks. Should the Vikings not re-sign Hunter, they’ll need two starting outside linebackers, either from free agency or the draft. For now, only Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II are under contract on the Vikings’ roster for 2024 at outside linebacker.

Also monitor Kirk Cousins’ free agency. If Cousins departs, Minnesota will have more money available and could extend Hunter with the savings.

The Lions ranked 26th leaguewide in 2023 per pass-rush win rate, so adding Hunter in free agency truly checks out.

Hunter will turn 30 in October.

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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