Could Hunter, Barr Get Extensions Next?

Photo: Hannah Foslien – Getty Images

Now that the Minnesota Vikings have Kirk Cousins signed through 2023, their previously veiled offseason plans are becoming clear. This new regime will do their best to improve the current roster and field a competitive football team in 2022. Meanwhile, Kwesi & Co will work to build up the Vikings youth and depth through the draft. The problem? Money.

Even after Cousins’ extension, the Vikings are still over the cap by $1.6 million. That’s a lot of space to clear up for a team that’s decided on building a roster they think can compete for a playoff spot in the NFC. Next on their offseason list of things to do, could be Danielle Hunter and Anthony Barr. Both futures are currently up in the air but keeping them in purple makes a lot of sense financially and on the field.

1.) Trade, Extend or Convert Danielle Hunter?

Sometime this week, the Minnesota Vikings will make a decision on Danielle Hunter. They could trade him or work out an extension. But it’s highly unlikely they’d get a proportional return for someone as young and talented as Hunter, given the injuries he’s battled the last two seasons. Still, teams are reportedly calling on him.

And for the same reasons, a long-term extension is risky for both sides too. A new deal worth too much could burn up the Vikings future books if Hunter’s health remains a problem. But, should Danielle return to his old form and prove he can stay on the field, he’d end up underpaid, given a new contract would have to reflect his oft-injured status of late.

So the easiest and most likely move is to convert Danielle Hunter’s $18 million roster bonus, which is due on March 20, into a signing bonus (Spotrac). Kwesi doesn’t need Hunter’s permission to make such a transaction and doing so would immediately clear $13 million in salary cap space.

2.) Extend Anthony Barr?

If the new Vikings brain trust likes Anthony Barr as much as Kevin O’Connell has previously claimed, then signing Barr to a new deal and getting him back in purple and gold for 2022 is crucial. First, this is a roster that desperately needs 3-4 linebackers and, if the Vikings see Barr as a fit, then paying him to play football for your team is much better than paying him to play for someone else.

The Zimmer/Spielman operation re-did Anthony Barr’s contract before last season and that now current deal calls for the former UCLA star to hit free agency in a couple of days while the Vikings get stuck with a $9.9 million void contract charge against them for 2022. But according to Arif Hassan (The Athletic), that cap penalty would come off the books should he sign on to remain in purple.

After Hypothetical Hunter, Barr Moves

Let’s be honest, the 2022 Minnesota Vikings cannot afford to pay Anthony Barr $10 million not to be on roster. They are dangerously tight against the cap and desperately need bodies on their front seven. If Barr wants to return and the Vikings think he can play in a 3-4, then a new deal makes too much sense not to happen.

After making these two hypothetical (for now) moves, Kwesi & Co would clear $10+ million on their 2022 salary cap and simultaneously lock TWO good-to-great players into a defense that’s desperate for bodies.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan