Where Do Things Stand With Danielle Hunter?

Rumors abound when it comes to Danielle Hunter. Consider this recent tweet as merely one example:

Still not convinced, you say? Fine, check out these tweets:

A mere few moments scrolling through Twitter (be forewarned, it’s wild over there; I do not recommend Twitter) will lead to all kinds of other Danielle Hunter rumors. What do we make of all this?

What Do We do With The Danielle Hunter Rumors?

Well, we sit and wait.

At the end of the day, we know this all comes down to money. Currently, Hunter has the 17th-ranked contract among edge rushers, per Over the Cap. Many folks will tell you that Hunter is the one who signed the deal, doing so at a time when the numbers appeared quite generous. Others will point out that he has far surpassed those numbers in terms of his value to the team, especially when placed alongside the deals inferior defensive ends are getting. We’re left with a stalemate.

Further complicating matters is the simple fact that he is coming off a season-ending neck surgery.

Hunter is likely looking at this injury and thinking that there’s no time like the present to get some new money added on. NFL careers are short, and injuries happen all the time. Get paid when you can.

The team’s perspective is likely the exact opposite. Why would Minnesota give Hunter a bunch of new money when there is no guarantee that he’ll return to his pre-injury form? The team probably thinks that this is the worst possible time for Hunter to push for a new deal.

The obvious counter, of course, rests in the dismal defense from last season. Hunter can point to Minnesota’s awful pass rush as a very persuasive piece of evidence in his favor. The Vikings don’t need Hunter? No one is believing that. Without him, their pass rush was pretty much non-existent. They traded for Yannick Ngakoue – himself a young, star defensive end – and that didn’t work out.

In other words, fixing this issue isn’t as easy as just acquiring a stud at DE (a task that is itself easier said than done). Minnesota is very particular when it comes to their defensive linemen. Not everyone works out in that defense. Hunter knows it and so does the team. He had back-to-back 14.5 sack seasons to partner with his strong run defense. Unlike Ngakoue, he’s a great fit.

Even still, there’s three years left on Hunter’s deal and he is coming off a major injury. We therefore find ourselves at an impasse. At this point, neither side seems willing to budge.

What’s the Solution?

Money. Money is almost always the solution.

Now, am I advocating that Spielman and Zim take leave of their senses and simply throw every last dollar those wealthy Wilfs have at Danielle? By no means. I do think they need to give him more money, though.

As a good faith move, Minnesota ought to be guaranteeing a significant component of his deal. OTC suggests that he only has $3.3 million in guaranteed money this season and then 0 for the remaining two years on his deal. The guaranteed money is quickly coming to an end, and that’s a legit issue. It behooves Spielman to start converting some of Hunter’s future cap dollars into guarantees. Give him more long-term security.

From there, incentivize that deal. They don’t even need to make the incentives hard to reach. Make it based on playing time and attainable statistics. Currently, Hunter’s original $72 million deal includes an extra $6 million in performance-based incentives (more useful info from the good folks at OTC). Minnesota should be willing to really increase that number.

At the end of the day, it does Minnesota very little good for Hunter to sit out. He is arguably their most important player. Zim and Spielman, at least from the outside looking in, appear to be on the hot seat. They don’t need a distraction heading into training camp.

Figure out a deal that works for both sides – like they ended up doing with Dalvin Cook last year – and head into the season at full strength.