Vikings star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter unhappy with current deal, could request a trade, per report

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Danielle Hunter has not suited up for the Minnesota Vikings since the 2019 playoffs. He may not suit up for them again. With several pass-rushers already cashing in as 2021 free agency gets underway, the Vikings’ own star defensive end is increasingly unhappy with his current contract and would consider requesting a trade, The Athletic’s Chad Graff reports. While Hunter, who missed all of 2020 due to injury, is signed through 2023, he is apparently plotting a path forward that could include an early exit from Minnesota.

The 26-year-old Hunter is arguably one of the cornerstones of the Vikings’ defense. In 2018 he signed a five-year, $72 million extension and has posted 54.5 sacks through his first five NFL seasons. But he’s been seeking a pay raise since before 2020, when a neck injury and surgery for a herniated disk sidelined him for the entire season, according to Graff, and with a number of other, less accomplished pass-rushers clearing his average annual value in recent years, the former All-Pro is now prepared for fiercer negotiations.

“If he’s not given a new contract, he could potentially hold out, he could publicly demand a trade or he could even seek new representation with the hope that a new agent could help him navigate a path out of Minnesota,” Graff writes. “He hasn’t ruled out any of those three scenarios.”

Hunter’s contract is slated to average $16.5 million per year from 2021-2023, but the Vikings no longer owe him any guaranteed money, and his total deal pays him an average of $14 million per season — significantly less than other Pro Bowl pass-rushers, like Joey Bosa ($27 million), Myles Garrett ($25 million), Khalil Mack ($23.5 million), Demarcus Lawrence ($21 million) and Frank Clark ($20.8 million).

Hunter would likely draw serious interest from around the league if the Vikings listened to offers for the former third-round pick, even after the defensive end missed an entire season due to injury. Teams like the Bengals, Browns and Jets have plenty of 2021 salary cap space to work with, not to mention needs at pass-rusher. The Vikings, however, would incur a dead cap charge of $12 million by trading Hunter this offseason, though they’d save a net of $5.25 million.

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