While the Minnesota Vikings are in the thrill of another rollercoaster season, it’s been hard to come by consistent performers. One could easily make the case that this team relies on inconsistency, for better and definitely for worse.
Danielle Hunter didn’t get that memo. He’s been an absolute PROBLEM for opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks this year, putting up an NFC-leading 13.5 sacks. He only sit’s 2 sacks behind Khalil Mack of the Chargers for the outright league lead.
Adding to Hunter’s prowess is that he’s got at least one sack in all but two games (vs CAR and vs ATL). He’s got a tackle for loss in all games but one, and has forced 4 fumbles on the year.
This is to talk nothing of other statistics such as tackles, pressure rates, QB Hits, and more that rightly paint him as one of the best in the league.
3 of those sacks came against one of the most dominant offensive lines in football, the Philadelphia Eagles. It is no stretch of the phrase to say that he has been a rock on Defense, and is backing up all of his team’s negotiations last offseason.
Obviously we’re all wishing this continues for the sake of this season, but it is clear that Hunter is absolutely playing above what the Vikings paid him before the season and will be holding even more cards this next offseason, whichever way the season goes.
Yes, he’s making $17 million, but 12 edge rushers are being paid more than him.
It’s currently a good problem for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, but it is a problem nonetheless. Not only will he be losing sleep over the still unclear QB situation AND a WR1 that is eyeing up a record contract, but now he also will have to try and cut a deal with one of the best pass rushers in football.
Compounding this is that Hunter is 29 years old, and will pass 30 next season, and is a 3-time pro-bowler. It’s a great position for Hunter as he is having the right season at the right time as far as his contract negotiations go.
It’s not so great for the team (Vikings) that will try to sign him. He’ll be wanting a clear step up from his current deal, and there is no reason to suggest he doesn’t deserve it.
While the Vikings currently have just over $38 million in cap space, there are so many needs that this team has to address next offseason. They only have 37 players signed onto deals that go through at least next year.
The Vikings front office may have found more negotiating power in the case of QB Kirk Cousins and his very unfortunate injury, but a large chunk of whatever cap space the Vikings have come the offseason will be going to WR Justin Jefferson. The man will need a Brinks truck, and rightly so.
Now, the Vikings will have even more of an onus to make nice with Hunter, who is also in line for a very sizable deal. The fan base will be up in arms even if we retain all three (more so with Cousins than the other two - depending on any potential deal), but Hunter is now making KAM’s job that much harder heading into 2024.