And just like that, Danielle Hunter gets paid. Yesterday morning, the blue chip edge defender and pass rusher inked a new deal with Minnesota to have a one-year adjustment to his contract. As before Hunter was making just north of $5 million , this $20 million deal includes $17 million guaranteed and $3 million in incentives, which as a whole was much needed. A new contract also projects the Purple and Gold’s cap space to drop to about $11.2 million for 2023, still enough to make another splash if they choose to do so. Additionally with this new one-year deal, Hunter is assuredly locked into becoming a free agent next off-season (unless a new contract happens), but is ready to go with Minnesota this year. They should resolve the Danielle Hunter, saga, correct? Unfortunately, probably not.
Hunter has been one of the best pass rushers in the league since he entered in 2015 and has 71 total sacks across eight seasons, 85 total tackles for loss, and 112 quarterback hits. Last year he racked up 10.5 sacks and was a force off the edge, nothing new for the 28-year old star. As a player, he’s been incredibly valuable and incredibly consistent, only missing two games in his rookie year and nine in 2021. When he’s on the field, he’s one of the best players in the league and the looming question of a new contract or extension will constantly be whispered throughout the season. However, this song and dance will continue into the 2023 campaign and maybe into the off-season of next year. Will the Vikings get a new long-term deal done with Danielle? Maybe but as of now, it would have to be because of Danielle‘s volition, as there is a no tag clause in his new deal. The bright side is Minnesota paid Hunter what he’s worth and that goes a long way come next March, if he hits free agency and he has multiple offers. Truly, the Vikings are the team that drafted him out of LSU in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft and he may stay home if given the right contract or the right interest doesn’t arrive outside of Minnesota. That said, the Vikings did play hard ball with him over the last few months and that stings.
Looking ahead though, Hunter was at camp this off-season but can now get to work ending his “Lock-In” with the Vikings. Minnesota football starts in ten days and having Hunter on the ship matters. Currently, Hunter has the 16th most sacks amongst active players and of players that were drafted 2015 or later, he sits third, just behind TJ Watt and Myles Garrett. As Minnesota looks to rebuild and retool this defense, having a Danielle Hunter on the field makes all the difference. Flores gets a dawg on the defensive line and Hunter has a phenomenal chance to put himself into a great position for a massive payday. Kwesi and company have three potentially massive contracts to get done with three core players (Jefferson, Hockenson, Danielle), but only time will tell who stays and who goes.