After a long hiatus, Hunter dispelled any speculation surrounding his condition for the 2021 season.
Coach Brandon Jordan posted a compilation of clips of Hunter’s offseason workouts after he appeared at Vikings minicamps following his contract restructuring.
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‘Good Grief, He’s Massive’
Several fans took notice of Hunter, who appears bigger than when he last played, in the video.
He looks bigger how can that be?? This kid is magic so glad we have him on our team he’s gonna have a big big season I predict Love seeing him getting back at it SKOL Vikings
— Purple Blood (@BigDaddy_68) July 10, 2021
Hunter has avidly posted his recovery progress since undergoing surgery in October and ramped up his social media presence in the days leading up to his contract restructuring.
This latest video is the most explosive yet, giving fans confidence that Hunter can return to his Pro Bowl form — when he produced the second-most sacks (29) by any player in the 2018 and 2019 seasons combined.
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It’s All or Nothing for Hunter
Under the terms of his new contract, Hunter is banking on a comeback performance in 2022.
The Vikings sweetened Hunter’s contract by converting $5.6 million in guarantees onto his cap hit this season. The 26-year-old has a reckoning with the team next offseason.
Minnesota offered Hunter an $18 million roster bonus for the 2022 season that would set his cap hit at $26.1 million, the sixth-highest in the NFL, per Over The Cap.
Hunter, who took a five-year, $72 million deal in 2018, wants to prove he’s worth the money.
If he returns to his former glory, the Vikings will surely commit to extending him long-term and spread that bonus across multiple years to lessen its blow on the cap.
But if Hunter struggles, the Vikings could look to trade or cut Hunter and avoid the roster bonus altogether.
Keeping him for a costly final year of his reworked contract could lead to the release of several of five projected starters this season with one year left on their contracts: newly signed secondary members Patrick Peterson, Mackenzie Alexander and Xavier Woods; veterans Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith; and rising right tackle prospect Brian O’Neill.
Smith and O’Neill are candidates for contract extensions this offseason. Smith, entering the moonlight of his career, could take a team-friendly deal. However, O’Neill is looking for his first big contract following his rookie deal which would likely balance any potential cap space that Smith would create.
With many decisions to make on the future of the franchise next offseason, Hunter’s domino is likely the first to fall.