The Danielle Hunter rollercoaster has bottomed out again this week. While his teammates are gathered in Eagan and practicing in shorts and padded helmets from 1907, Hunter is nowhere to be found. The offseason workouts being conducted at TCO Performance Center this week are voluntary so the LSU alum won’t be paying any fines or facing heavy questions from reporters. But that doesn’t mean Minnesota Vikings and their fans have nothing to worry about, regarding the most talented and athletic player on their defense.
Regarding Danielle Hunter, I’m told he was not present during the first day of OTAs on Monday. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise to the people w/in the Vikings I’ve spoken with considering it’s a voluntary phase of the offseason. Does that mean he won’t show up at all in— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) May 25, 2021
(or among the highest paid) DEs is the reason behind his absence, that won’t shock anyone. Now, does he have leverage? Depends on who you ask. But as of now, I don’t expect to see Hunter at OTAs on Wed. (when media is allowed) or at any point the next few weeks.— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) May 25, 2021
So, is Danielle Hunter upset or not?
At the end of the day, nobody cares about Danielle Hunter’s attendance record at voluntary offseason workouts, as long as they’re convinced he’ll be around when his attendance becomes involuntary. But that’s where the questions get bigger. Nobody knows whether or not Hunter plans to attend mandatory camp workouts when they start in June.
Here’s what we do know. His agency group believe he’s vastly underpaid and his absence this week is obviously calculated. According to insider Darren Wolfson, who was on SKOR North Radio with Mackey and Judd on Tuesday, said Hunter’s representation is bothered/miffed/annoyed or “irked”, as he put it, by Joey Bosa’s contract with the LA Chargers.
Bosa makes an average of $27 million per season (according to Spotrac.com), good for the highest average salary of any edge rusher in the NFL. Hunter’s $14.4 million per season is good for 20th. The real $$$ numbers don’t look as bad, which is something I’ve written about before but a new deal definitely makes sense for both sides, which I’ve also written about.
"I know that the Danielle Hunter camp looks at that and says 'whoa ok, if Joey Bosa got that ($27M/yr), we're certainly worth more than that.'" – @DWolfsonKSTP on @SKORNorth #Vikings pic.twitter.com/ItBkKago9L— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) May 26, 2021
Doogie wouldn’t quite pin any feelings of consternation directly on Danielle Hunter, himself, which says something. But clearly, his camp is positioning for a big pay day at some point. Still, Wolfson believes a deal eventually gets done between the two sides, possibly before the 2021-22 season begins. But there are others (Harrison Smith and Brian O’Neill) who might be lined up ahead of him. Watch the full Mackey and Judd episode HERE.
Deep breaths… for now
We shouldn’t lose sleep over Danielle Hunter’s absence at TCO Performance Center yet… but that time could come. For now, however, the betting money is that #99 is back in Minnesota Vikings purple when his paychecks are on the line next month.
Let’s hope everything continues to trend in that direction.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan