Vikings star pass rusher Danielle Hunter has not reported to the team's facility yet this offseason in a show of frustration with his current contract, skipping all ten "voluntary" OTA practices. That's going to change on Tuesday, as multiple reports have indicated that Hunter will be attending Minnesota's three-day mandatory minicamp this week. He would've lost nearly $200,000 by not showing up, between sacrificing his workout bonus and being fined for missing each day of minicamp.
Update: Hunter and the Vikings have agreed to a reworked deal for 2021. Check out the details here.
The news that Hunter will attend minicamp was first reported by NFL Network's James Jones — the former Packers wide receiver — and later by the Star Tribune's Ben Goessling.
This is a major step in an ongoing saga between Hunter and the Vikings. The drama originated from Hunter being unhappy with the contract he signed in 2018, which currently makes him the 21st-highest paid edge rusher in the league. That deal was a massive bargain for Minnesota in 2018 and 2019 when Hunter ripped off back-to-back 14.5-sack seasons and established himself as a truly elite defensive end. The Vikings love Hunter and would undoubtedly like to make him happy, but two things complicate negotiations on their end. One is that Hunter is coming off missing all of last season with a herniated disc in his neck that required surgery. The other is that he's still under contract for three more years, so acquiescing to his demands could set a dangerous precedent. Here's a recap of how we got here.
Whether Hunter actually participates in drills on the field this week remains to be seen, but presumably he will. If the 26-year-old takes the field and demonstrates to the Vikings coaches and front office that he is fully healthy and remains the same physically dominant force that he was prior to the injury, that could make it much easier for them to feel comfortable giving him a raise. Hunter simply being at the facility is great news for the Vikings, as it's a big step towards the two sides finding an end to this situation.
Despite the injury and the years remaining on his current contract, the Vikings have every incentive to get something done with Hunter's representation and make their star player happy. They need his presence on their defensive line badly, considering their lack of proven pass rushers elsewhere on the roster. With a new defensive tackle duo and an overhauled secondary, Hunter is the piece that ties everything together and could make this defense one of the league's best again if he returns to his 2019 form.
I'll be at TCO Performance Center on Tuesday observing minicamp, so stay tuned to my Twitter and this website for updates on everything Hunter-related and much more.
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