Vikings: Will Danielle Hunter be traded before mandatory minicamp?

Danielle Hunter #99 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on against the New York Giants in the third quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Giants 27-24.  ((Photo by David Berding/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Vikings host mandatory mini camp next Tuesday and Wednesday at TCO Performance Center, and there’s a chance that at least a few high profile names will not be there.

Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and Danielle Hunter have been absent throughout the Vikings’ offseason workout program, including three weeks of organized team activities. None of that is a surprise, or an immediate concern. The workouts are voluntary.

That changes next week. The latest rumors center around Hunter, and according to an NFL Network report, the team is taking trade calls on the edge rusher. He played every game last season and finished with 10.5 sacks as an outside linebacker opposite Za’Darius Smith in Ed Donatell’s 3-4 defense. Earlier this offseason, Smith was traded to the Cleveland Browns.

Hunter made $20 million last season, after two straight years marred by injuries. He missed the entire 2020 season after suffering a herniated disc in his neck during training camp. He played just seven games in 2021 before suffering a torn pectoral muscle. He’s due to make just $5.5 million in 2023. The Vikings have not been able to work out a long-term deal to this point.

Hunter’s talent, when healthy, can’t be denied. He was the fastest player in NFL history to at least 50 career sacks in his first five seasons after getting 14.5 in both 2018 and 2019, each Pro Bowl years. He was also a Pro Bowl selection this past year. 

If Jefferson is not there, it might be a sign that he wants a new contract before the 2023 season. He led the NFL in receiving last season, and is due a big pay day. Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has said getting Jefferson signed to a long-term deal in Minnesota is a top priority.

Cook has been the subject of trade rumors since the 2022 season ended, and that only escalated when the Vikings brought back Alexander Mattison on a two-year deal worth $7 million. Cook ran for 1,173 yards last year in his first fully-healthy season, and the Vikings early had a deal this offseason to send him to Miami.

If anything happens with Hunter, Cook and/or Jefferson, we’ll likely find out before mandatory mini camp starts next Tuesday.