The Kansas City Chiefs have taken a measured approach this offseason. Outside of the big money he offered offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, general manager Brett Veach hasn’t really splurged on anyone in 2023 — whether in free agency or via trade.
A big move could still be coming, however, and some around the league feel the Chiefs are just waiting to pounce at positions like wide receiver and/or defensive line. Focusing on the latter, one trade option could be Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl pass rusher Danielle Hunter, who is reportedly generating lots of “trade interest” according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.
Although it’s unclear whether or not Minnesota plans to move Hunter at this time, Rapoport noted that his departure is possible being that the veteran D-end has not gotten the contract extension that he’s seeking. After hearing this news, USA Today Vikings Wire writer Tyler Forness came up with six good trade fits for Hunter and Kansas City made the list.
“The Chiefs are an interesting team on this list,” Forness reasoned. “They just traded one of their best players last year and drafted two edge rushers in the first round over the past two drafts, but Hunter would be a difference-maker that Steve Spagnuolo’s defense loves to have in his aggressive scheme. It would also take the pressure off of Chris Jones and replace Frank Clark with a better version of him.”
Chiefs-Vikings Trade Rumors: Danielle Hunter’s Contract, Potential Price Tag
Hunter attended last year’s all-star weekend festivities after a 10.5-sack season in 2022. He also made the Pro Bowl in 2018 and 2019, as well as the second-team All-Pro roster in 2018 and a fifth-place finish in the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year voting.
As one of the more consistent pass rushers of the past eight years (entered the NFL in 2015), Hunter wouldn’t come cheap. “Not only will they have to give up significant [draft] capital for Hunter,” Forness added, “but they will also have to compensate him more than the $4.9 million he is slated to make this year.”
Rapoport put his salary at approximately $5.5 million in 2023 — the final year of a $72 million extension that was signed in 2018. The void years make this one a little tricky, but it appears the Vikes would save $11 million-plus in cap space over the next two seasons if they decide to trade Hunter ahead of Week 1 (per Over the Cap).
Hunter was sidelined in 2020, but appeared in 102 games (starting 73) over the remaining seven NFL campaigns from 2015 through 2022. During that span, he registered 71 regular season sacks and 85 tackles for a loss, with 112 QB hits and seven forced fumbles.
Hunter’s resume also includes 4.5 postseason sacks over six contests, with four tackles for a loss, nine QB hits and one forced fumble.
The Chiefs would likely need to extend Chris Jones in order to free up enough cap space for a trade like this.
Do the Chiefs Need Vikings’ Pass Rusher Danielle Hunter?
Like the WR corps, the Chiefs pass rushing unit is challenging to predict as it stands in June. Will Charles Omenihu and rookie first rounder Felix Anudike-Uzomah fill the void left by Clark and Carlos Dunlap? Can 2022 first rounder George Karlaftis III take the next step in 2023?
These are fair questions for Veach and his front office to ponder, and perhaps KC decides to bring in a veteran at a later date. They could also view Hunter as too expensive via trade.
USA Today Chiefs Wire’s Charles Goldman reacted to this rumor, stating: “[Hunter’s] likely looking for a third contract and a long-term commitment and a team like Kansas City would need to extend him anyways in order to fit his salary cap number in 2023.”
He concluded that “ultimately, the cash and cap space situation might be too dire for the Chiefs to make a move on Hunter right now. Should their depth at the position take a hit at some point this offseason, it might be a move they’re forced to consider.”