Report: Danielle Hunter 'Unhappy' with Vikings Contract; Could Request Trade

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2021

FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2019, file photo, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter warms up before the team's NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Minneapolis. Hunter does not appear close to returning to the team. Coach Mike Zimmer said the two-time Pro Bowl pick was in New York for a second medical opinion on his reported neck injury. Hunter was placed on injured reserve Sept. 9. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King, File)
Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter is reportedly "exploring all his options" as he seeks a raise on the five-year, $72 million contract he signed back in 2018, according to Chad Graff of The Athletic. 

Hunter is "unhappy" with his current contract and has "grown more discontent" as the Vikings haven't addressed the situation.

Per that report, "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. He hasn't ruled out any of those three scenarios."

Hunter, 26, missed the entire 2020 season due to a herniated disc, but he has emerged as one of the most consistent and dangerous pass-rushers in all of football, with 54.5 sacks in his first five seasons and 14.5 sacks in each of the 2018 and 2019 campaigns. 

As Graff noted, Joey Bosa, currently on a five-year, $135 million contract, has never posted a 14.5 sack season. Myles Garrett, currently on a five-year, $125 million contract? Never posted a 14.5 sack season either. Frank Clark, on a five-year, $104 million deal... well, you get the drift.

And only one player in all of football, T.J. Watt, posted more than 14.5 sacks in 2020, with 15. 

So Hunter makes a strong argument that he's both incredibly valuable and pretty significantly underpaid. The Vikings, of course, can counter that he's still under contract, they aren't required to move him or renegotiate his deal and he's coming off a major surgery that could affect his play going forward—or at the very least, that they want to see how he looks in 2021 before considering a reworked deal. 

And so a stand-off may be on the horizon. Hunter has reportedly "expressed his frustrations to multiple people," per Graff. An unhappy Hunter or a holdout isn't ideal. Losing him would be worse. 

Expect Hunter's situation to remain one of the primary storylines in Minnesota as the offseason progresses.