Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman tried to smother any fires surrounding a trade or contract dispute with Danielle Hunter back in March.
Spielman denied that Hunter had directly approached the Vikings about being paid or asking for a trade, both questions he answered with a firm “no.”
“I’m not ever going to talk about business or contracts with anybody. I never have done that. I never will,” Spielman said back in March, via Vikings.com. “I know from all indications from where he’s at on his rehab right now — and I saw an Instagram picture of him yesterday — he looked pretty good. But excited to get him here in the fold and get him going once we get started.”
It was radio silent between the organization and Hunter’s camp until this past weekend when former ESPN reporter Josina Anderson leaked a comment from inside the Vikings organization.
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Vikings’ Team Source Shades Hunter
Anderson reported on Sunday that a team source said the following on Hunter and his absence from voluntary OTAs:
It was a great deal when he signed it. A third-round pick that had only gone to one Pro Bowl. All I’ll ask is ‘if you were coming off your first year as a starter would you have turned five years, $72 million down?’
This is the first time any team comment has been reported related to the contract dispute with Hunter that has largely been smoke in social media since Ian Rapoport added that Minnesota faces an ultimatum with Hunter, coming off season-ending neck surgery. The Vikings’ comment
Hunter’s camp will likely following the Vikings’ “leaked” comment with their own social media posturing as both sides look to enter negotiations approaching the June 15 deadline where Hunter is required to report to mandatory minicamps.
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Timing is Everything
Back in June 2018, Hunter signed a five-year, $72 million contract after his first year as a starter. He quickly outperformed that deal over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, becoming the youngest player to reach 50 career sacks in NFL history.
Despite the lucrative deal that Hunter signed at the age of 23, his current $14.4 million annual salary ranks 17th among edge rushers in the league, per OverTheCap. Hunter is criminally underpaid, however, the contract he signed was before becoming one of the league’s premier edge rushers and, like many contracts in the NFL, likely won’t see its end-day and is deserving of a second look.
OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald still found the 2018 signing to be an absolute steal for the Vikings, adding that Hunter’s agents should have aimed in the range of $17-$18 million a year for Hunter.
The Vikings had the foresight to sign him to a five-year contract early, but in a business where contracts are rarely fully guaranteed, Hunter is exercising his right to ask for a raise — a point KSTP’s Darren Wolfson drove home with a fan on Twitter.
But after missing a season and coming back from a herniated disc in his neck, the fear surrounding Hunter’s health remains the A-topic and potential scapegoat in refuting Hunter’s ask for a raise.