Reports were circulating Monday morning that the Vikings were going to be in play on some of the top-tiered pass rushers in free agency. Just hours after those reports came out it sounds as if the team has their own in-house problem to worry about.
Chad Graff of The Athletic reported on Monday afternoon that Danielle Hunter is not happy with his current contract. He also said that the Vikings star pass rusher is exploring all options, including a possible trade request.
Hunter has totaled 54.5 sacks since being drafted in the third-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He was also the fastest player in NFL history to reach more than 50 sacks in a career.
This report shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as Hunter is only 26 and has proven that he belongs in the conversation for top pass rushers across the league. The contract he signed back in 2018 doesn’t reflect that he’s a top-end pass rusher, so the disconnect makes sense.
Hunter is coming off season-ending neck surgery that took place last September, but if he’s healthy he’d be an instant boost to the defense. The front office could have some concerns about the injury lingering, but Hunter has posted several workout videos on social media highlighting his hopes at being ready to go for the 2021 season.
The weirdest part about this report is the fact that Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer both iterated to the public that they were unaware of Hunter being unhappy with his contract. Since those press conferences Hunter has seemed even more displeased with his contract, as more reports have reflected his unhappiness.
In 2020 the Vikings’ pass rush regressed without Hunter there to stabilize the defensive line. If the team learned one thing last season it should be the importance of having a star pass rusher like Hunter on the roster.
Before getting too far ahead of themselves in the free agency circus, the Vikings need to do whatever it takes to ensure Hunter is in Minnesota in 2021. If they're unable to come to an agreement the team needs to be greedy for draft capital before parting ways with the brightest star of their defense.
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