Tied for the league lead with four sacks in two games, Hunter is on the verge of a massive extension. But after the Vikings did not reach a long-term extension with the 28-year-old in the offseason, that extension coming from another team isn’t out of the question, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.
“Even if he manages only six more sacks over the next 15 games, he’ll reach 10 for the season. It’s relatively rare for a player coming off a double-digit sack season to reach free agency at all,” Seifert wrote on September 20. “Hunter would be doing so after consecutive 10-plus-sack seasons, a strong response to the injury-shortened years he experienced in 2020 and 2021, and would still only be 29 years old. There’s a long way to go, and perhaps the Vikings will get trade offers if their season doesn’t turn around.
“But Hunter has started the process of positioning himself for a massive payday — from the Vikings or another team — next spring.”
Vikings Sent Danielle Hunter Into Prove-it Year
Hunter staged a “hold-in” at the beginning of training camp which spurred trade rumors surrounding the three-time Pro Bowler.
The Vikings and Hunter came to a compromise on an adjustment for the final year of his contract, raising his guaranteed compensation to $15.5 million with a chance to earn another $1.5 million in game-day roster bonuses. There is an additional $3 million in incentives based on sack totals that would max out his contract at $20 million this season.
The Vikings agreed not to use the franchise or transition tags in 2024, giving him free rein to entertain free agency in March.
If Minnesota is not sold on its future with Hunter, the Vikings should trade him before the October 31 trade deadline this season. The Vikings have shown a desire to be competitive, meaning if they turn around from a 0-2 start to the season, the odds of Hunter being traded would be unlikely.
However, if the Vikings are sunk by October, trading Hunter would garner valuable draft capital approaching an important draft for the new regime.
He’s proven to be back to his full form after missing the entire 2020 season with a back injury and the majority of 2021 with a torn pectoral injury.
Vikings’ Future With Danielle Hunter Influenced by Marcus Davenport
The Vikings made a bet on signing an oft-injured Marcus Davenport in the offseason. Davenport has yet to play a full game in Minnesota, but he could be the contingency plan if the Vikings do not want to give Hunter his payday.
The front office has major contract negotiations on the horizon with Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Hunter next offseason. Christian Darrisaw may be in talks to become the league’s highest-paid left tackle by next offseason as well.
The Vikings could feasibly sign all of their stars to new contracts, but that would leave little funds available to give Brian Flores better personnel for next season, which would be the M.O. if Cousins earns another year in Minnesota.
If Davenport can prove his worth, he could be re-signed on a cheaper deal than Hunter. Flores’ ability to dial up pressure in his blitz-happy scheme may not warrant an edge rusher on a superstar contract.
And the draft capital received in a trade for Hunter could be used to land the Vikings a bonafide blue-chip edge rusher on a rookie scale contract.