Last week was a big one for the Minnesota Vikings, who finalized a reworking of Danielle Hunter's contract on Monday and officially signed Sheldon Richardson the next morning. All of a sudden, the concerns surrounding the team's pass rush are much less pressing. Hunter is back and motivated to prove himself following a serious injury last year, while Richardson gives the Vikings a dynamic veteran three-technique who should be able to wreak havoc in a rotational role.
One week later, let's take a look at some of the details of the adjusted or new contract signed by these two players, leading off with some notable information about Hunter's deal from former NFL agent Joel Corry on his podcast "Inside The Cap."
Last week, all we knew was that Hunter was receiving a $5.6 million signing bonus up front and will have an $18 million roster bonus next March, essentially pushing the long-term decision for the Vikings to next year.
Per Corry, the Vikings added two void years to the deal, meaning that $5.6 million is spread across five years, not three (which saves a little more cap space for Minnesota). Hunter's cap hit is $12.77 million this year, down from its original $17.15 million, but all of that money is fully guaranteed. His cap hit jumps to over $26 million in 2022, but realistically it's not going to hit the Vikings' books at that number because the $18 million roster bonus can be converted to signing bonus and spread across the remaining years of the deal. That roster bonus also prevents Hunter from holding out from training camp in 2022 because he would forfeit the entire thing.
Essentially, this means the Vikings have more leverage heading into extension talks with Hunter's camp next March than we thought. If the two sides can't get a deal done, the Vikings won't need to cut Hunter because they can just convert the roster bonus to signing bonus and spread it out. There's also no risk of Hunter holding out.
How the Hunter situation plays out next year will still obviously depend on how well he plays in 2021. If he returns to 2019 form, he'll get a lucrative long-term contract from the Vikings or they'll trade him for a massive haul to someone more willing to pay him. If he doesn't, things could get a little tricky. The Vikings could either keep him on the current contract at another cap hit in the $12.6 million range, or they could cut him.
For now, though, he can simply focus on getting ready for a crucial 2021 season.
As for Richardson, his cap hit is just $2.32 million in 2021, which is a massive bargain for a player who has been as consistently productive as he has. That's because the Vikings added two voidable years for him as well, spreading out his nearly $2 million signing bonus. That's a tactic the Vikings seem to be using a lot more frequently of late.
The interesting thing about Richardson coming to Minnesota is that he reportedly turned down more money from the Browns to do so, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. That tells you a lot about Mike Zimmer, Andre Patterson, and the culture the Vikings have created, not to mention the potential contender they're seemingly building this offseason.
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