Danielle Hunter, Vikings Reportedly Agree to Contract Extension

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 19: Danielle Hunter #99 and Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrate a sack against the Los Angeles Rams during the game on November 19, 2017 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings and defensive end Danielle Hunter reportedly agreed to a contract extension Wednesday, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Hunter signed a five-year, $72 million deal with $40 million in guaranteed money. There is also a $15 million signing bonus, per Rapoport.

Hunter had been set to enter the final year of his contract in 2018 before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Hunter, 23, had another strong season while coming off the edge in Minnesota, accumulating 45 tackles, seven sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the 2017 season. While he couldn't replicate his impressive 12.5 sacks from 2016, he remained a pass-rushing threat for Minnesota's staunch defense.

Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 82.6 last season, which was 29th among edge-rushers.

Hunter's talent and upside never quite blossomed at LSU, but his ability has manifested during his three NFL seasons—to the point that general manager Rick Spielman used him as an example of the types of players the Vikings seek in the draft (h/t Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com):

"We talk about this all the time in the draft meetings, this guy may be a better football player today, but this guy this guy has such a higher ceiling. Our coaches are so eager to work with these athletes and to me that’s when you get an opportunity to make a hit on a guy that can be something, the Danielle Hunters of the world. I think when we drafted him in the third I don’t know how popular that was because he had one sack coming out. But, he had such great traits and things these coaches love to work with that he’s developed. That’s the philosophy we’ve kind of used as we’ve went through the draft."

With 25.5 sacks in his professional career, Hunter has made that philosophy look smart. 

And with players such as safety Harrison Smith, defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks and cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings have built a talented, dangerous defense.

Hunter is a key part of that unit. Keeping the defensive core intact has clearly been a goal of Minnesota's front office, and it will be expected to stay among the NFL's elite for years. The expectation for Hunter is he continues to grow into one of the NFL's most dangerous edge-rushers.

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