As Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins exits-stage-left from the NFL rumor machine, EGDE rusher Danielle Hunter enters. His arrival to the trade-rumor mill is abrupt as the 26-year-old has not publicly mentioned any desire to leave the team. He also has not expressed any form of discontent from his lips, typing fingers, or agent.
But an odd period of weeks exists on the NFL calendar – one that rumors run rampant because that’s the only “news” to digest. Franchises fortify their coaching staffs with new personnel in January, the NFL combine usually occurs in February (not this year – COVID), and then NFL brains wait. And that lull transpires in the weeks leading up to free agency. Or – now.
Then, players like Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz get traded inside of this flux timeframe. That ignites the “what if” on other players. Vikings enthusiasts experienced this with Kirk Cousins. Nothing came from it.
Due to an Ian Rapaport tweet last October, some personalities believe that Hunter wants a pay raise.
It is unclear if the Rapaport tweet is credible because it is rooted in a pretense that Hunter is a free agent or that malcontent about his contract is common knowledge. Hunter is not a free agent nor has he [or any of his people] publicly complained about underpayment.
Nonetheless, other team-themed social media accounts fantasized about landing Hunter via trade on Friday. And wouldn’t you know it – Hunter “liked” those tweets from his Twitter account.
These are the tweets that Hunter evidently enjoys.
Internet Sleuth Clues
Hunter is not a prolific engagement merchant on Twitter. The last time he “liked” something on Twitter was around Christmas. Therefore, it is intriguing that he pressed a heart button on hubbub that hypothetically situates him on a different NFL team.
Is it elementary that Hunter endorses a trade because of this? No. If you were an excellent waitress at Buffalo Wild Wings and an employee from Applebee’s stated on Twitter that he/she would love to see you working at their restaurant, would you be flattered? Probably.
Hunter also diminished the presence of his Vikings photos on Instagram. That is – he [or someone with access to his account] scrubbed most photos that illustrated him wearing a Vikings uniform from his profile. Just like tweet-liking, it is up to the beholder to decide if this is a smoking gun.
Typically when grown men — who are professionals — want change, they address such matters with folks that handle logistics. In this case, that would be Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
For Rick Spielman, It’s Business as Usual
In a press conference on Thursday, Spielman affirmed that he was unaware of any expressly-stated desire by Hunter to be the highest-paid defensive lineman in the industry. Spielman flat-out said “no” when asked if the situation had reached his orbit.
He continued by mentioning:
“From all indications of where he’s at in his rehab right now, I saw an Instagram picture of him yesterday. He looked pretty good. Excited to get him back here in the fold and get him going once we get started.”
This is a far cry from something like, “I am aware of the situation, and we are in talks with Hunter.”
Change is not effectuated by pressing a Like button on Twitter. If Hunter wants more money or a new NFL life, it must be implemented by Spielman. Ergo, either Spielman is not overly forthcoming right now or there is nothing to see here.
Memories of Stefon Diggs
The culprit for doomsday thinking on the Hunter-trade hearsay can be traced to Stefon Diggs. The former Vikings wideout went on a bizarre spree of social media behavior in 2020 – before he was ultimately traded to the Buffalo Bills. Some folks see parallels from that — to this.
If the two situations are bedfellows, consider this the starting point for Hunter. In no way, shape, or form has he emulated Diggs’ cryptic-tweeting to date. This cycle of tweet-liking and Instagram-scrubbing would be the first chapter – if this is even real.
Too, Hunter is in a curious spot to lay down a gauntlet of leverage. While it is accurate that he is underpaid based on 2019 performance, he missed all of 2020 with a grim injury. Hunter injured his neck last season and missed all 16 games. The offseason of 2021 – recovering from a serious injury – seems like a less-than-ideal time to demand more money. Hunter assuredly deserves a fatter contract if he is the same force that the league feared in 2019. But, for now, Minnesota’s front office likely wants to see his in-game condition before breaking the bank on a contract extension.
On a trade, the Vikings would entertain the transaction if a) They believe his recovery is discouraging b) a Godfather deal is finagled.
But the organization will not conduct operations based on tweet likes.