NFL Analytics Guru Predicts Vikings Will Let Danielle Hunter Walk

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Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

This offseason, the Minnesota Vikings will have a lot of big decisions to make. And you won’t make it very far down Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s to-do list before you reach Danielle Hunter and his pending unrestricted free agency.

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As it stands, Hunter is far and away the biggest playmaker on the Vikings defensive depth chart. I like Danielle Hunter but that’s a bigger reflection on the lack of talent defensively, than it is anything else. Nonetheless, it proves how crucial he is to the Vikings’ 2024 outlook on that side of the football.

ESPN Analytics guru predicts Vikings will let Danielle Hunter walk

But in a big league-wide feature at ESPN on Sunday, in which their NFL staff dove into the offseason outlooks of each eliminated team in the league, analytics guru, AP All-Pro voter and the creator of the widely used DVOA metric, Aaron Schatz (ESPN), predicts that the Vikings will throw their defensive future into chaos this offseason by letting Danielle Hunter walk in free agency.

Big prediction for the offseason: The Vikings will allow edge rusher Danielle Hunter to leave in free agency despite the fact he set a career-high with 16.5 sacks in 2023. Hunter’s cost will be too expensive going into his age-30 season (likely over $20 million per year), and Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will look to get younger on defense.

Aaron Schatz – ESPN

Out of the three major contracts the Minnesota Vikings will be all but forced to address this offseason, Hunter’s is the one that I wonder about the most. It won’t have a lot of term (2-3 years) so the Vikings won’t be able to backload anything, like they will with Justin Jefferson’s.

Will Minnesota Vikings really let Hunter walk…?

As we proved last week, Kwesi can easily fit Cousins, JJ and Hunter into their cap plans over the next couple years, prior to Justin Jefferson’s annual cap hit becoming too expensive. So money matters, but it’s not a question of whether or not the Vikings can afford it. They can.

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What it comes down to, is the same thing as what the entire Minnesota Vikings offseason comes down to: Does this organization value winning in 2024? If ownership wants to win now then re-signing Hunter, just like Kirk Cousins, becomes an easy “yes” decision.

If the main objective is to win now, re-signing your two most important players (to immediate success) on each side of the football is the only logical decision. Now, if focusing on the future takes precedence over immediate success, then we have a different conversation.

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