A dreaded 0-2 start would spell disaster in Minnesota. Since the 1970 merger, less than 10% of teams that started a season with two losses made the postseason, according to MinnesotaBets.com.
The Vikings’ 0-2 start to start the 2020 season led to a 1-5 record entering the bye. The front office offloaded a previous win-now investment that week, sending sack leader Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a third-round pick.
Danielle Hunter could see the same fate.
Bleacher Report has Hunter listed as a top candidate on its NFL trade big board, and it makes sense.
The Vikings explored trade talks involving Hunter in the offseason but settled on signing him to a new one-year, $17 million contract after long-term extension talks fizzled out during the offseason.
Hunter, soon to be 29, will be a free agent next year; it would be wise for Minnesota to salvage some draft capital if the Vikings’ season unravels early.
Other Vikings Trade Candidates
Hunter isn’t the only Vikings player whose future is uncertain and could become trade bait in the coming months.
Seven starters are playing on expiring contracts this season and could walk in free agency by next season. The front office was noncommital to many of the team’s stars this offseason as Minnesota appears directionless fending off a full rebuild.
Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Hunter all had contract talks this offseason end without a long-term deal agreed upon. Without the team’s most expensive contracts set for the future, the front office will have a hard time finding its direction in building the rest of the roster.
Cousins and Jefferson aren’t likely trade candidates, but beyond the two stars, anything could happen.
Starting edge rusher Marcus Davenport was brought to Minnesota on a one-year rental and could be sent off if he can’t stay on the field.
K.J. Osborn is in the final year of his rookie contract and is likely to garner plenty of attention if he reaches free agency, making a trade for him appealing to a potential suitor who won’t have to contend with other offers in free agency. Alexander Mattison was subject of similar trade interest in the final year of his rookie deal last season when at least 12 teams called the Vikings about him ahead of the trade deadline.
Countless trade possibilities are bound to be floated in the coming months but Osborn, Davenport and Hunter are notable trade candidates given their potential value in a trade.
Vikings Fans Should Brace for Another Wilde Ride
If there’s any certainty for the Vikings, it’s death, taxes and single-score games. Since the start of the 2021 season, 27 of 35 games the Vikings played were settled by eight or fewer points.
Week 1 against the Buccaneers was considered a winnable game on the Vikings schedule that is full of toss-ups this year.
Starting the division schedule at 1-4 or 2-5 isn’t ideal with the NFC North looking more competitive this season.
The Vikings’ luck in single-score games was cached in the 2022 season with Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay already revealing regression as a possibility.
But that won’t buck this team’s tendency of failing to put lesser teams away and sticking around with the contenders, making for another wild ride in Minnesota.