The Minnesota Vikings and linebacker Danielle Hunter agreed to a new deal, the team announced Sunday. NFL Network was the first to report the news. Here’s what you need to know:
- The contract is worth one-year, $20 million. Hunter gets $17 million guaranteed with a no-tag clause, according to NFL Network.
- Hunter is entering his eighth season with the Vikings.
- The 28-year-old is a three-time Pro Bowler. In 2022, Hunter started 17 games, posting 46 solo tackles and 10.5 sacks.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Why is this deal significant?
Because there had not been a resolution for months. Hunter did not participate in organized team activities nor minicamp because he and his representatives were seeking a new deal. The Vikings, meanwhile, have been reticent to pay any player high-end money, especially for the long term. This was a stalemate; two sides who seemed distant given their wants. That all changed Sunday morning.
This one-year deal places Hunter near the top of the edge rusher market in terms of compensation. And for the Vikings, it gives newly hired defensive coordinator Brian Flores a proven high-impact player. Additionally, if Hunter produces the way he did last year and remains healthy once more for an entire season, he’ll enter free agency with a bevy of options. — Lewis
What does it mean for the Vikings?
That their defense has a centerpiece. Safety Harrison Smith is a key leader, and linebacker Jordan Hicks has been around the block. But the Vikings were without a top-of-the-line proven player, and Hunter fits that mold. His presence should help Flores as he attempts to revamp a defense that is loaded with youth. That’s all in the short term. Thinking big picture, Hunter’s one-year deal has additional ramifications. First, it is once again a sign that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is trying to keep the future books clean.
Then there is the question of: If Hunter improves the defense, and the team wins more games than initially expected, what will the route be at quarterback? In a roundabout way, all big Vikings questions relate to that position and the future of that position. Kirk Cousins’ contract is set to expire at the end of the year. The two sides have not consummated an extension.
Win a bunch of games, and the Vikings will then be picking later in the first round, which will complicate any attempt to climb up to snag an elite arm. These are all questions for another time. For now, it’s clear: Today, the Vikings’ defense improved. — Lewis
Hunter entered the league in 2015 when the Vikings drafted him with the 88th pick. For his career, Hunter has 262 solo tackles and 71 sacks through 102 games played.
The Vikings finished last season with a 13-4 record, losing to the New York Giants in the NFC wild-card round.
(Photo: Matt Krohn / USA Today)