Recent Super Bowl Champion Named ‘Best Team Fit’ for Vikings’ Pro Bowler

Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Danielle Hunter #99 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings have two of the top 10 pending free agents on ESPN analyst Matt Bowen’s list. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kirk Cousins is third, ranking behind only Kansas City Chiefs star Chris Jones and Jacksonville Jaguars star Josh Allen.

The NFL is a quarterback-drive league, and Cousins figures to be the top option on the market this offseason.

There is mutual interest in his return.

Danielle Hunter, No. 8 overall on Bowen’s list, is less of a certainty. But he too should have no shortage of suitors. Bowen believes the Las Angeles Rams are the “best team fit” for Hunter.

“The Rams have money to spend in free agency, and filling the edge rushing need should be a priority,” Bowen wrote on February 20. “Adding Hunter would give the Rams a productive veteran force opposite Byron Young … with Aaron Donald on the interior. That’s how you upgrade a pass rush.”

Hunter, 29, is coming off a one-year, $17 million contract and his fourth career Pro Bowl.

Spotrac projects him to command a deal worth $20 million annually, which could present an issue for the cap-strapped Vikings.

They enter the offseason with $40.9 million in cap space following a surprise bump to the salary cap. That should give them more wiggle room. But players could also look for greater percentages of the salary cap in contract negotiations.

The 2022 Super Bowl champions, the Rams enter the offseason with $52.3 million in cap space.

They also have quarterback Matthew Stafford under contract, taking one potential concern of staying in Minnesota — resetting at quarterback — out of the equation.

Bears Expected to Show Interest in Vikings’ Danielle Hunter

Ryan Poles, Chicago Bears

GettyGeneral manager Ryan Poles of the Chicago Bears.

“Just letting everything play its course. I did my job. Everything’s in my agent’s hands and my team — and whomever it is that’s out there,” Hunter said, per’s Grant Gordon on February 2. “My job, like I said, is to do my job. And I’m gonna make sure I stay in shape and whatever is best available for me, I’ll take that.”

Again, that could prove ominous for the Vikings.

Bowen likes Cousins for the Atlanta Falcons. But he remains the Vikings’ top priority. That could spell the end of Hunter’s time in Minnesota. League sources expect the Chicago Bears to show interest.

The Bears are $82.9 million under the cap.

“The sense I get here in Vegas is that Danielle Hunter will be hard for the Vikings to keep. He will have a very strong market, he turned 29 in October, and several teams had interest at the trade deadline,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote on February 10. “Chicago could look to add a pass-rusher to complement Montez Sweat in free agency and is very high on Hunter.”

Vikings Could Benefit From Salary Cap Boost

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

GettyGeneral manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings’ hopes of retaining Hunter – or any of their free agents for that matter – thanks to the NFL announcing a $30 million increase in the salary cap.

“The NFL announced today that the 2024 Salary Cap will be $255.4 million per club, with an additional $74 million per club payment for player benefits, which includes Performance Based Pay and benefits for retired players,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on February 23.

“The unprecedented $30 million increase per club in this year’s Salary Cap is the result of the full repayment of all amounts advanced by the clubs and deferred by the players during the Covid pandemic as well as an extraordinary increase in media revenue for the 2024 season.”