49ers Given Strong Hint to Add 3-Time Pro Bowler on Trade Block

John Lynch

Getty John Lynch during the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.

The Minnesota Vikings, featuring former San Francisco 49ers executive Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at general manager, find themselves in a growing roster overhaul with minicamp already beginning in six days.

Already, the team dealt away Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns on May 16. Four-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook remains a trade or cut candidate given his hefty salary. Now, three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter is on the trade block as of Wednesday, June 7 — with NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport unveiling that the Vikes have been receiving trade calls for Hunter, which he adds are “pretty serious” talks.

The news of Hunter being on the trade block prompted Bay Area sports radio personality and 49ers reporter Bonta Hill of 95.7 FM The Game to drop his hint that the Niners should be pursuing Hunter.

What is Hunter’s Situation?

Much like Cook’s situation, Hunter is finding himself facing a deep financial dilemma with the Vikings.

He’s currently on a five-year, $72 million deal. But, that deal officially runs out in 2024.

There are reports that Hunter sounds displeased with his current contract. Again, this is the final year of his deal while he’s also set to earn a base salary of $4.9 million for the 2023 season. His yearly cash is set for $5.5 million.

Rapoport had stated that the Vikes tried to look into a temporary “band-aid solution” that would’ve allowed the edge rusher to earn more money for the upcoming season. But the interest of that hasn’t been there for Hunter. He ended up not attending the Vikings’ organized team activities (OTAs) during June.

“They have not yet been able to strike a long term deal to compensate him at a level he wants,” Rapoport said.

However, Rapoport added “a trade probably would’ve been a lot easier before the draft because then the Vikings would be able to replace him. Much more difficult now.”

But, trade chatter is happening for Hunter and the former 49ers executive Mensah is involved in making another potential blockbuster roster shakeup on the eve of minicamp.

Any Room for Hunter in the Bay Area?

The thought of adding the ultra-productive Hunter is, without a doubt, an intriguing one for a 49ers team that has thrived on building the trenches.

After all, Hunter not only has 71 career sacks, but he’s produced four double-digit sack seasons since 2016. And that includes his back-to-back 14.5 sack campaigns in 2018 and 2019. He still performed at a high level last season in hitting 10.5 sacks with the Vikings — leading into his third Pro Bowl appearance. The very thought of him on a defensive line featuring the league’s top sack leader Nick Bosa, the versatile Arik Armstead and prized newcomer Javon Hargrave presents a nightmarish front for offensive lines.

However, the 49ers could run into their own financial difficulties if they were to work a trade with Hunter. Even if it came at the expense of dealing draft capital or even quarterback Trey Lance (whose name has been linked as a possibility for the Vikings before), the 49ers would still face a tough situation in trying to acquire Hunter via trade, especially with taking on his current salary. Currently, the 49ers sit at $10,681,566 in cap space per Over the Cap.

There’s still this situation involving the 49ers’ trenches and front office: Bosa and his still pending contract extension. Many analysts believe the reigning 2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is deserving of becoming the wealthiest defensive player in league history. Bosa, however, has suggested to the Bay Area media that he hasn’t given too much thought into his pending extension and is confident something will work out.

The Vikings situation, though, clearly points to not having enough money to keep Hunter any longer. Best case scenario for the Niners is potentially see if Hunter gets released. A trade would have to likely mean Hunter being willing to accept lesser money. Still, the idea of seeing Hunter in a 49ers uniform has sprouted…which would instantly bolster the Niners’ Super Bowl hopes if Hunter joins that defensive line room in the Bay Area.

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