Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes broke the internet with the news of his 10-year contract extension north of $400 million on Monday. His deal set a new bar for long term contracts in the NFL as ESPN’s Adam Schefter says its “the largest contract no just in NFL history, but in sports history.”
Christopher Gates of the Daily Norseman asked if there a Vikings player that deserves a decade-long contract extension like Mahomes. If there is one, he found it to be in defensive end Danielle Hunter. Hunter, 25, is the youngest player to reach 50 sacks in NFL history, and given the longevity at defensive end, Hunter could be one of the position’s top performers for years to come.
Here’s Gates’ speculation on Hunter getting a 10-year deal:
If you look at what Danielle Hunter has done in the early part of his NFL career, it’s awfully damn impressive. As we know, he was the youngest player in NFL history to reach the 50-sack plateau this past season, as well as collecting more quarterback sacks before the age of 25 than any player in NFL history. He’s already been in the NFL for five seasons, which is hard to believe, and might not be close to reaching his prime yet.
As we’ve seen over the years, pass rushers can be very good for a very long time in the National Football League, and a player of Hunter’s caliber that is showing no signs of slowing down could be the centerpiece of the Vikings’ defense for a very long time. He is already signed through the 2023 season thanks to his last extension, so a ten-year extension would potentially (depending on how things are structured) keep him in purple until 2033, when he would be 39 years old.
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Danielle Hunter Would Become One of the Best Pass Rushers in NFL History
Hunter was recently listed as a player that his franchise should never let go of. A 10-year contract extension from 2023 — when his current deal expires — would cover him until he was 39.
Vikings Hall of Famer Jim Marshall, a member of the notorious “Purple People Eaters,” holds the record for most games played by a defensive end with 282. He played 19 seasons in the NFL to the age of 42. A more recent example is Julius Peppers, who played until he was 38.
If Hunter were to play through a 10-year contract extension, he would have a shot at besting all-time sacks leader, Bruce Smith. Smith played until he was 40, spending 15 years with the Buffalo Bills and amassing 200 sacks in his career. Smith had a tremendous streak of health, playing in 15 or 16 games a season from 1992 to 2000, earning five All-Pro honors and seven Pro Bowl appearances from the age of 29 to 37.
The Vikings are more likely to take Hunter’s contracts step-by-step, but given what he’s shown so far, it’s feasible to consider Hunter could be a member of the Vikings well into the next decade.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire