Rumor Mill Links Danielle Hunter to Vikings’ Enemy

ESPN Has Frightening
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The Kansas City Chiefs outlasted the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night in Super Bowl LVIII, an overtime affair, marking the formal end of the 2023 NFL campaign and kickstarting the offseason for all 32 teams.

Rumor Mill Links Danielle Hunter to Vikings’ Enemy

The Minnesota Vikings’ offseason began five weeks ago after the Detroit Lions eliminated the purple team, and among the most crucial topics in the next month involves Danielle Hunter’s free agency. The veteran EDGE rusher is scheduled to hit the open market if no contract extension materializes.

Mill Links Danielle
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And if that occurs, ESPN linked Hunter to a strange destination last weekend, Minnesota’s secondary foe — the Chicago Bears.

Chicago possesses about $35 million in effective cap space as of February 12th and has the funds to procure Hunter if the 29-year-old hits the free-agent wire. 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.”

Bears Choose Starting QB vs. Vikings
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Hunter banked a career year in 2023, his age-29 season, tabulating 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).

“Chicago could look to add a pass-rusher to complement Montez Sweat in free agency and is very high on Hunter,” Fowler added.

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Last month, with his future front and center in the Vikings offseason plans, reporters asked Hunter if we wanted to stay in Minnesota. He replied succinctly, “Yes, sir.”

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

But the four-time Pro Bowler sounded less sure about his return to the Vikings at the Pro Bowl 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 upcoming free agency.

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If the Vikings do not re-sign Hunter, they’ll need two starting EDGE rushers this offseason, as Patrick Jones II and Andre Carter II are the only two currently under contract for 2024.

Meanwhile, these are the Bears EDGE defenders on the books for next season:

  • Montez Sweat
  • DeMarcus Walker
  • Dominique Robinson
  • Khalid Kareem
  • Daniel Hardy

The Bears ranked 17th per defensive DVOA in 2023 and markedly improved throughout the season.

Hunter’s next contract — from the Vikings, Bears, or elsewhere — should fetch between $20-$25 million per season. He’ll 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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