Vikings: Danielle Hunter reports to training camp amid contract uncertainty

Danielle Hunter reported to Minnesota Vikings training camp at TCO Performance Center along with other veterans on Tuesday, but it’s unlikely he’ll be a full participant when the team starts practice.

The Vikings hold their first workout of training camp on Wednesday, and the first practice open to fans is on Saturday. Hunter missed the Vikings’ entire offseason workout program, including mandatory mini camp, while he seeks a bigger pay day for the 2023 season.

Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said Tuesday Hunter is considered day-to-day, as they haven't seen him the entire offseason. It’s unlikely he’ll practice until there’s a resolution with his contract, but he did avoid a daily $50,000 fine by reporting.

"Danielle and I have had such good dialogue over these last few days and really trying to build a plan for him that allows him to feel good about coming to work as a Minnesota Viking every single day," O’Connell said. "We’ll continue to work through the contractual side. He is here, it was great to see him."

Hunter is due $5.5 million this season after getting 10.5 sacks in 17 starts in 2022. It was his first fully-healthy season since 2019. He missed the entire 2020 season with a herniated disc in his neck suffered during training camp, then had his 2021 season end just seven games in after suffering a torn pectoral muscle against the Indianapolis Colts.

Hunter signed a five-year, $72 million deal in 2018.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is in charge in making sure Hunter is happy with the Vikings. He said conversations are ongoing.

"There’s a lot of things we’re trying to work through with Danielle. We haven’t seen him since last season, so that, amongst many other issues that we’re trying to work through with his representatives," Adofo-Mensah said. "Those conversations are ongoing. I’m really excited to see him, it’s great to see a great player like that. A great Viking, that’s where I’m at right now."

While it’s a positive that he’s in the building, the Vikings will need to work out a contract with the star edge rusher before he does anything significant on the practice field. Earlier this offseason, reports emerged that the Vikings fielded trade calls for Hunter, fueling speculation about his future in Minnesota. 

He’s the fastest player in NFL history to amass at least 50 career sacks in his first five seasons. When healthy, he's proven he's one of the best edge rushers in the NFL.

What’s O’Connell’s focus as they try to come to a resolution with the star pass rusher?

"The key to me is the dialogue between myself as the head coach and the player. The starting point was he showed up today. He’s around his teammates and he’s in our building. That’s Day 1," O’Connell said. "We’ll kind of move forward from here with a positive mindset that hopefully Danielle Hunter is playing every single game for us this year and having a major impact for us like he’s done his whole career."