Vikings Rumors: Hunter’s Holdout, DB Dance, & Wonderful Wilfs

Danielle Hunter / Sheldon Richardson
Oct 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph (98) and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (93) and defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) enter the field before the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Though we’re now into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors aren’t as abundant, we’ll still be highlighting some of the purple rumblings.

The “Vikings Rumor Wrangle” is a series that seeks to keep readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss the Danielle Hunter situation, the need for defensive backs to know multiple positions, and how the the Wilfs are doing good work.

The Vikings Rumors – 06.14.2023

Rumor #1 – Danielle Hunter is Holding Out

Yes, that’s the word from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network: “Three-time Pro Bowl DE Danielle Hunter plans to skip the Vikings’ mandatory minicamp, per sources.”

At the end of the day, skipping minicamp isn’t reason to be overly concerned. The pass rusher’s hold out, though, does signal that he’s very serious about getting a new deal. Pelissero goes on to note that the Vikings and Hunter “haven’t seen eye-to-eye on a new contract,” so there is a legitimate disagreement on this one.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift (32) runs with the ball and tries to avoid a tackle from Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The long & strong pass rusher is essentially irreplaceable. He’s capable of being uniquely disruptive due to his length and explosiveness. The issue, of course, is that he’s nearing his 29th birthday and had consecutive serious injuries in the 2020 and 2021 seasons. How much is that player worth?

Currently, his $13.12 million cap hit hinders our understanding of the actual issue: he’s due to make just $5.5 million in actual money in 2023.

Last season, Danielle Hunter finished the season with 10.5 sacks and 22 QB hits. Piling on 12 TFLs and 65 total tackles made his year even more impressive, especially when we remember just how poor Minnesota’s defense was in 2022.

Again, irreplaceable. Leverage = Hunter.

Rumor #2 – The DBs Will be Tasked with Shifting All Around the Defense

Paying attention to what the DBs have been saying leaves one with the impression that the defense is going to look a bit more complex.

Camryn Bynum, Mekhi Blackmon, and Andrew Booth Jr. have all said that they’re putting effort into learning multiple different positions since that’s what the defense will demand of them.

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Take a look at what the sophomore corner said: “[Brian Flores] expects all of us to know every position in the back 7 because it can change and it changes based on the play call and different variations of what we do.”

The depth at corner is a bit concerning, but there’s ample talent at safety. Perhaps a broader blend of DB talent – combined with the fresh, unique blitzes up front – will result in coverage that’s far stingier.

One could easily envision Harrison Smith thriving in a defense that moves him all over the place. Lewis Cine and Josh Metellus certainly have a lot to offer. Bynum was a college corner who is now an NFL safety and Jay Ward was all over the defensive backfield at LSU. Expect the Flores defense to capitalize on all of this varied skill.

Rumor #3 – The Wilfs Are Doing Great Work

As far as I can tell, the answer is an enthusiastic yes.

Look, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting them, so I really don’t know what they’re like behind closed doors. All I can see is what’s publicly available. And, on that front, they’re doing well. Their recent gesture toward Rick Spielman is excellent stuff.

Dec 10, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman (left) and president and co-owner Mark Wilf watch from the sidelines during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Partnering that generosity with the top-notch stadium and facilities makes it easy for fans to be enthusiastic about the ownership, especially since the Vikings consistently spend to the cap in an effort to field a competitive roster. The NFLPA player survey, complete with A grades across the board for the Vikings, simply underscored that Minnesota is an impressive place to go to work.

Winning in the NFL is very difficult. Winning in the NFL without strong ownership is close to impossible. Thankfully, the Wilfs are doing a lot to put the Vikings in a nice position to compete.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.