The Danielle Hunter Buzz? “Hard to Keep.”

PurplePTSD: 5 Questionable Vikings, Get to Know IND, Thielen's 2022 Campaign
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have two outside linebackers under contract for 2024 as of February 12th.

The Danielle Hunter Buzz? “Hard to Keep.”

Those men are Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II, neither of whom is classified as a true-blue starter. So, Minnesota must re-sign Danielle Hunter and add another starting EDGE defender — or let Hunter embark on free agency and find two new starting EDGEs.

Hunter Buzz
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Those are the stakes.

And according to ESPN, Hunter will be “hard to keep” this offseason. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote Saturday, “The sense I get here in Vegas is that Danielle Hunter will be hard for the Vikings to keep. He will have a very strong market, he turned 29 in October, and several teams had interest at the trade deadline.”

Explained: What to Expect against the Dolphins
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Hunter tallied a career year in 2023, recording 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). He also led the NFL in tackles for loss (23). Not bad.

Fowler named a couple of possible landing spots for Hunter, too, “Chicago could look to add a pass-rusher to complement Montez Sweat in free agency and is very high on Hunter. The Jacksonville Jaguars are another team to watch, though they have to figure out Josh Allen’s future.”

The Vikings 2022 Defense by the Numbers: After Week 9
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

The Bears-Hunter pairing would obviously represent a kick in the teeth for Vikings fans, as folks are accustomed to Hunter pursuing various Bears quarterbacks since 2015, not the other way around. And on the Jaguars, well, Hunter has been connected to Jacksonville for years in the rumor mill.

In January, with his future at the forefront of the Vikings’ offseason plans, reporters asked Hunter if we wanted to stay in Minnesota. He replied affirmatively, “Yes, sir.”

“I went out there, did what I was told to do. I was excited about how I played this year,” Hunter said about his performance.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

But the four-time Pro Bowler seemed less certain about his return to the Vikings at the Pro Bowl in Orlando one week 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 forthcoming free agency.

“Hard to keep” is merely the latest wrinkle, and the Vikings might have to unload megabucks for a Hunter reunion. Pro Football Focus forecasts Hunter earning a contract worth about $22 million per year.

The Vikings will presumably have a decision on Hunter in the next four weeks; free agency’s “legal tampering” period kicks off on March 11th.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by