Texans Grab Vikings’ Most Prized Free Agent

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Before Tuesday, Danielle Hunter was the second-longest tenured player on the Minnesota Vikings’ roster. Now, he’s the newest Houston Texan.

Texans Grab Vikings’ Most Prized Free Agent

Hunter signed in the AFC on Tuesday evening, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “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.”

Danielle Hunter
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Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer followed with, “Hunter gets the annual salary he was looking for, or close to it, and gets to go home to Houston. A dominant force in nine years for the Vikings, even if they weren’t always on the same page about his value.”

The Vikings reportedly had a deal on the table for Hunter similar to what he ultimately signed in Houston, but when he didn’t accept it to start free agency, Minnesota acted, signing Jonathan Greenard from the Texans and Andrew Van Ginkel of the Miami Dolphins. There was no time to waste if Minnesota wanted starting EDGE rushers. Waiting for Hunter could’ve turned deadly for roster construction.

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In the end, the Vikings essentially swapped Hunter for Greenard, landing Greenard at a better value and three years Hunter’s junior.

Down in Texas, Hunter will now form a ferocious pass-rushing duo with last year’s rookie Will Anderson. Without Hunter in 2023, Houston ranked third leaguewide per ESPN’s pass-rush win rate metric. So, adding Hunter will spell double trouble for the AFC South.

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Hunter joined the Vikings in 2015 as a 3rd-Round pick and didn’t take long to blossom. He earned a starter’s job by 2017, his third year as a pro, replacing Brian Robison, and never looked back. In 2023, Hunter was the Vikings’ most consistent defensive player in a season when the defense, on the whole, was a total rollercoaster. The club began 2023 with a terrible first three games, became one of the best defenses in football from Weeks 4 through 14, and bottomed out at the worst possible time during the season’s final four games.

All together last season, Hunter banked a career year, his age-29 campaign, totaling 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.

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Minnesota needed EDGE rushers heading into the 2024 offseason — like, several — and this group is now the EDGE foursome on the books as of 7:30 pm CST on Tuesday, March 12th:

  • Jonathan Greenard
  • Andrew Van Ginkel
  • Patrick Jones II
  • Andre Carter II

Hunter was indisputably a fan favorite and will be “one of those guys” fans cheer for during his career outside the Vikings — kind of like Stefon Diggs in Buffalo.

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).

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