The Vikings Exodus Continues: Danielle Hunter Heads to Houston on 2-Year Deal

On Monday, it was veteran QB Kirk Cousins who left the Vikings to join the Atlanta Falcons. Shortly afterward, LB Jordan Hicks also left Minnesota to play for the Cleveland Browns.

On Tuesday, the Vikings exodus continued as Danielle Hunter becomes the latest veteran player to leave the team. After Minnesota signed both Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel, it seemed inevitable that Hunter would be moving on, but now, it is official. Hunter is heading back to the Houston area where he grew up to play for the Texans.

The Vikings Exodus Continues

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported the deal, tweeting, “Four-time Pro Bowl DE Danielle Hunter is signing with the #Texans, sources tell me and @RapSheet. Agent Zeke Sandhu with @KlutchSports negotiated to deal for Hunter, who has 87.5 career sacks and is still only 29.”

Hunter has spent the first nine years of his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings after being drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of LSU. The pass rusher almost immediately burst onto the scene with the team, and in just his second season, he recorded 12.5 sacks at the age of 22.

He has been a major part of the Vikings’ success in the past decade, being a part of four separate playoff runs, including the 2017 run to the NFC Championship Game. Hunter posted double-digit sacks during five of his nine years in Minnesota, and at 87.5 sacks over his career, he ranks sixth all-time in Vikings franchise history. He surpassed Jared Allen during the 2023 season in which he put up a career-high 16.5 sacks.

Vikings Exodus
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Making these totals most impressive is the fact that there was a time where it seemed like Hunter may never get back to the glory of his early career. The pass rusher missed the entire 2020 season because of a neck injury, and he played just seven games in 2021 before a torn pec ended his year.

Of course, though, Hunter has bounced back wonderfully over the past two seasons, and now, he is rewarded with a large contract with the Texans, heading back to the city where he grew up. He attended high school at Morton Ranch, just outside of Houston.

According to Pelissero, Hunter’s contract with the Texans will pay him a grand total of $49 million over the course of the next two seasons. $48 million of the contract is guaranteed.

Grading the Vikings Position Groups: Defense
Dec 16, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Texans were one of the biggest surprises of the 2023 season by winning the AFC South and making the playoffs with a 10-7 record after going 3-13-1 in 2022. A major reason for that turnaround were the performances from the second and third overall picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, QB C.J. Stroud and OLB Will Anderson.

Now, Hunter will join Anderson, who won Defensive Rookie of the Year with seven sacks this past season, to create a ferocious tandem on Houston’s defensive front.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.