Should the Vikings TRADE Hunter?

Should the Vikings TRADE Hunter? Pioneer Press says they might have to

The only thing that could infuriate Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer more than realizing he bought tickets to a 3D movie, would be losing his young, stud defensive end Danielle Hunter. 

Hunter has lit the league on fire in his short career, reaching many milestones and breaking records seemingly left and right. He has been out the entire 2020 season due to a herniated disk in his neck, however. Despite how inspired the defense has been as of late, which is bolstered by the fact that the Vikings are 7 point favorites against the Cowboys this week, he is and has been sorely missed. 

However, things aren’t all great in Hunterland as far as his relationship with the Vikings in concerned (outside of the above), his contract status. 

Hunter is criminally underpaid for his output, and is due a tremendous extension that the cash strapped Vikings need to figure out sooner than later. 

That is, unless they were to trade Hunter?

It sounds nigh blasphemous, but the idea was posed by Pioneer Press legend Charley Walters recently. 

How? Why? When? What? Whom? How?

Walters says that if the Vikings are to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft to nab a quarterback of the future, someone like Lawrence, Fields, Lance/Zach Wilson, they’ll need to end up at or above the 7th-overall pick and in Walters’ estimation the “only way” for the Vikings to do so is to trade Hunter. 

Walters writes:

“The way it looks now, the only way the Vikings will be able to move up in the first round of April’s NFL draft to pick an elite quarterback is to trade Danielle Hunter.

There’s been whispering that Hunter, 26, out this season after neck surgery, isn’t thrilled about being the 15th-highest paid pass rusher in the league. Without a renegotiated contract, it wouldn’t be surprising if he holds out of next year’s training camp.”

Ruh roh.

Sounds like Walters is implying that Hunter may holdout or leave in free agency, so it’d make sense for the Vikings to not only get something for him, but to potentially get their future QB as well. 

Or maybe even more?

He continues: 

“That could force the Vikings to trade Hunter. The return? Perhaps two first-round draft picks… A top-seven or so pick acquired in a trade for Hunter, plus the Vikings pick, might be enough to get Ohio State QB Justin Fields.

There’s no way the Vikings can get Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence — he’s probably going No. 1 to the hapless Jets. The No. 3 projected QB, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance from Marshall, Minn., played in just one game this season and his inexperience would mandate his rookie season learning from the sideline.”

Considering that the Vikings have veteran Kirk Cousins locked down (via a contract that makes him nearly untradeable) through 2022, Lance’s inexperience may not matter to the Vikings. 

Hopefully they’re able to lock down Hunter, though, as this team is showing that they have the brightest future in the NFC North even without Hunter or guys like Barr, their more experienced corners (which isn’t saying much) like Mike Hughes, etc. 

Hunter is a once in a lifetime talent and has many, many years of prime years left and while it may not have made sense to pay a defensive end what will be the largest salary for a defender in the league if your team is objectively awful, it’s clear that this Vikings team is going to contend yet again sooner rather than later and Hunter gives them a better chance to do just that. 

Then again, if the salary cap is reduced to $175 million (from what would’ve been around $210 million) because of COVID, it may be impossible for the Vikings (even with cap genius Rob Brzezinski) to invest over 40% of their cap on Cousins, Cook and Hunter. So this is definitely worth debating even if it’d be horrible.