Vikings Trade Pitch Flips Hunter for Promising Pass-Rusher, 2 Picks

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Courtesy of Vikings Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

The Minnesota Vikings may transition into stockpiling mode in the coming weeks and Danielle Hunter is their most valuable trade chip.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell authored a trade pitch on Thursday, October 12, flipping Hunter to the Detroit Lions along with a 2024 fifth-round pick. In exchange, the Lions send the Vikings a 2024 second-round pick, a 2025 conditional third-round pick and edge-rusher James Houston.

Barnwell’s logic is that Hunter is on the last year of his deal and probably won’t be back in Minnesota regardless.

“Hunter is probably the best player with a realistic chance of being moved by this deadline. The 28-year-old standout has 6 sacks and a league-high 9 tackles for loss through five games,” Barnwell wrote. “He landed a one-year, $17 million deal after a hold-in this summer. But with free agency looming and the Vikings repeatedly reticent to offer him a new deal, he is likely to leave the organization in the offseason.”

James Houston Could Prove Long-Term Piece for Vikings

GettyDetroit Lions edge-rusher James Houston.

If general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah decides to go in the tank for the rest of the season then every move from here on is about the future.

Barnwell explained how a trade with Detroit would be future-centered in two ways, both financially and in terms of personnel.

“Trading Hunter would save the Vikings $8.3 million over the remainder of 2023,” Barnwell wrote. “They would land Houston — who looks like a promising pass-rush prospect with two years of team control remaining through restricted free agency — and a second-round pick in April’s draft. They would also get a third-round pick in 2025 if Hunter re-signs with the Lions in free agency.”

Houston is 6’1″ and weighs 245 pounds. He plays the outside linebacker position, so the transition into the Vikings’ base defensive scheme would be relatively seamless.

The Lions drafted Houston in the sixth round in 2022. He played in seven games last season, amassing 13 pressures, 11 QB hits and 8 sacks, per Pro Football Reference. Houston is also a bargain for years to come, with a total contract value less than $1.7 million.

Danielle Hunter Won’t Return 1st-Round Pick to Vikings

Danielle Hunter

GettyMinnesota Vikings pass-rusher Danielle Hunter is arguably the team’s most valuable trade chip.

Hunter has been exceptional again this year in an encore to his Pro-Bowl performance in 2022. The havoc he wreaks in opposing backfields is the kind of playmaking teams seek at the top of the draft.

So why can’t the Vikings get a first-round pick in return for Hunter, who turns 29 years old at the end of October? Barnwell contends that it’s because Minnesota undercut its own trade leverage when restructuring Hunter’s contract.

“Other teams know that, which is why the Vikings wouldn’t be likely to land a first-round pick for a player with three months remaining on his deal, even given Hunter’s pedigree, 2023 production and age,” Barnwell said. “The acquiring team would get to recoup a potential compensatory pick for him in free agency if it lost him. Although that pick would be canceled out if the team spent on new free agents accordingly.”

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