Danielle Hunter Signing with Houston Texans

Danielle Hunter
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings drafted Danielle Hunter out of LSU in the 3rd round (88th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft. Back then, he was a physical freak who had underwhelming numbers at the collegiate level.

Once he got around what was an absolutely star studded defensive line back then, under Mike Zimmer, one that included the likes of Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph and Brian Robison, he blossomed like a beautiful rose on steroids, as he transformed into one of the best day-2 draft choices in recent Vikings history.

Danielle Hunter is signing with the Houston Texans

But on Tuesday, at 29-years-old, it was announced that he’s moving on to the next stop on his NFL journey. When free agency officially starts on Wednesday, Hunter will sign a 2-year, $49 million contract with the Houston Texans, $48 million of which is guaranteed.

That’s nearly $25 million per season, all of which is guaranteed at signing. Not only that, but he will hit free agency again at just 31-years-old. It’s worth noting that the Vikings agreed to terms with former Texan Jonathan Greenard on Monday, meaning the two teams essentially swapped the two pass rushers during the negotiating period.

Danielle Hunter played 119 games in purple and gold, 90 of which he started. Since 1982 (the year the NFL started counting sacks as an official statistic), Hunter’s 87.5 total sacks (16.5 of which came last season) stand 3rd all time in Minnesota Vikings history, behind just John Randle (114) and Chris Doleman (96.5). Jared Allen finished his career here with 85.5 sacks, good for 4th behind Danielle.

Related: Former Packers RB Aaron Jones is Signing with the Minnesota Vikings

But Hunter wasn’t just good at rushing the passer. Under Mike Zimmer, it was crucial that the 4-3 defensive ends stayed disciplined and filled the right gaps or held the backside properly against the run. If you didn’t, you didn’t play. So Hunter is far from a one-trick pony.

From a PFF standpoint, Hunter has aged like a fine wine, though according to their metrics, he did have some regression come through in 2023 where he saw his defensive grade drop from where it sat from 2019-2022, which averaged in the mid 80s down to a 78. It’s the first time his defense grade has dropped under 80 since 2018.

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