Have We Seen Danielle Hunter’s Last Sack in Purple?

Does Pro Bowl
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Danielle Hunter watched as the final seconds ticked off the clock in a loss against the Detroit Lions last week. While still wearing the Minnesota Vikings purple uniform, it had to at least cross his mind if that were the last time he’d put those threads on. Have we seen his last sack for the good guys?

Have We Seen Danielle Hunter’s Last Sack in Purple?

For the past couple of years, Danielle Hunter has sought a greater payday before the season. After playing just seven games and dealing with an injury in 2021, he was healthy for all 17 games a year ago, and he posted 10.5 sacks playing alongside Za’Darius Smith. When the opposite edge rusher forced his way out over the offseason, Minnesota opted to bring in Marcus Davenport. That was a bust, but Hunter picked up the slack.

last sack
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Yes, the Vikings did agree to give Hunter a bit of a boost coming into the 2023 season, but it’s hard to argue that he wasn’t worth every penny. Putting up a career 16.5 sacks, Hunter is in line for arguably the biggest payday of his career. Although he slowed the pace late, the Vikings sack master was among the best at the position throughout the league this year.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, there is no way Hunter will make only the $20 million he earned this past season. At worst, he should be looking for a $5 million increase annually, and it isn’t illogical to think that his average take home can’t be $30 million. As the talented pass rusher pushes the dollars up, finding a path forward in Minnesota becomes increasingly difficult.

This offseason, the Vikings will be forced to figure out deals at the quarterback position, pay Justin Jefferson as the league’s best wide receiver, and know that Christian Darrisaw needs a cash windfall, too. Hunter will be 30 years old next season, and while it doesn’t seem straightforward that he’s set for a decline, it stands to reason that Father Time will eventually be coming.

Priority Is So
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Of course, Hunter would like to stay with the only organization he has ever known and would like to retire as a Minnesota Viking. Whether that is reflected on the bottom line remains to be seen, and that should ultimately dictate the outcome of his roster spot.

As Minnesota twisted in an odd middle ground around the trade deadline, the front office opted against trading Hunter. The return wouldn’t have been massive, but it certainly would’ve been usable. Getting nothing for him in the offseason would sting, but it might be a reality they soon have to deal with.

Regardless of Hunter, there is no denying that the Vikings need another edge rusher. D.J. Wonnum stepped up fine, while Davenport was an absolute zero, but he is also set to be a free agent. Hunter would need a running mate if he’s coming back, and if he’s not, then there is an even greater hole for the organization to fill.

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Minnesota has seen its fair share of talented rushers over the past several years. Jared Allen paved the way for Brian Robison, and Hunter took the lead once they rode off into the sunset. We aren’t at a place where the career is over for Hunter, but if they can’t allocate the funds, then his time with the Vikings will end.

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.