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Joey Bosa's Deal is a Reminder That Danielle Hunter is a Massive Bargain

The Vikings' star defensive end is a bargain compared to some of his peers at edge rusher.
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On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Chargers signed defensive end Joey Bosa to a five-year, $135 million contract extension that makes him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the NFL. The massive deal comes two weeks after Browns defensive end Myles Garrett signed an extension for $125 million over five years, and continues a trend of marquee edge rushers breaking the bank.

Bosa and Garrett are now two of seven edge rushers in the league with deals worth over $100 million in total. DeMarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark signed their massive extensions last offseason, joining Khalil Mack (2018), Von Miller (2016), and J.J. Watt (2014). Defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox are also above the $100 million threshold.

In that context, it's becoming more and more clear that Vikings star Danielle Hunter is one of the biggest bargains in the entire NFL. Back in the 2018 offseason, the Vikings signed a then-23-year-old Hunter to a five-year, $72 million deal that keeps him with the franchise through the 2023 season.

All Hunter has done over the two seasons since inking that extension is put up back to back seasons with 14.5 sacks, make two Pro Bowls, and generally establish himself as one of the most physically dominant edge rushers in the league. Still just 25, the former third-round pick out of LSU became the youngest player in the history of the NFL to reach 50 career sacks.

Arif Hasan of The Athletic provided a great summary of Hunter's dominance and production over the past two seasons in a recent article:

Among the 50 players with the most sacks over the past two years, Hunter ranks first in tackles, second in pressures (per Pro Football Focus), second in tackles-for-loss, third in quarterback hits, third in sacks (and sacks per game) and fifth in pressure rate. Take Aaron Donald out of the equation and Hunter moves up in each category — meaning that there have been virtually no edge rushers that have rivaled Hunter’s overall production in the past two years despite the fact that he hasn’t hit his prime yet. 

Hunter trails only Chandler Jones in sacks among edge rushers over the past two years, and is also an outstanding run defender. He's an athletic freak of nature who has continued to advance his game every year under the tutelage of defensive line coach Andre Patterson.

And yet, the $14.4 million average annual value of his current contract ranks 21st among NFL edge rushers. Bosa's $27 million AAV is nearly double that, and the Chargers star has just 17 sacks over the past two years (albeit in only 23 games). Other edge rushers with higher AAVs than Hunter include Dante Fowler, Melvin Ingram, and Arik Armstead, as well as franchise-tagged players like Bud Dupree, Leonard Williams, and Matt Judon.

Hunter will be an especially big bargain for the Vikings in 2020. After restructuring his deal this offseason to help the team create cap space, his cap hit for this season is just $9 million. That ranks 33rd among all edge rushers. Hunter's cap hit will grow to $17.75 million for 2021 and $17 million for 2022, but even that will be phenomenal value for the Vikings if he continues to produce at a similar level.

Still just 25 years old, Hunter has plenty of prime years ahead of him, which is a scary thought for the rest of the NFL. And in a time where teams are handing out $25-27 million a year to players like Garrett and Bosa, the Vikings should feel very fortunate to have one of the league's best pass rushers on a very team-friendly contract.

Signing Hunter to that $72 million extension back in 2018 is looking like a savvier more from Rick Spielman every day.


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