Vikings, Danielle Hunter Agree To Extension

The Vikings have agreed to terms on a contract extension with pass rusher Danielle Hunter, sources tell Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero of (on Twitter). It’s a five-year deal worth $72MM, a source tells Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter).

The deal includes $40MM in guarantees, Rapoport hears, though it’s not immediately clear whether that represents the contract’s full guarantee at signing. Hunter’s deal includes a $15MM signing bonus, so his full guarantee is worth no less than that amount.

Hunter will earn $48MM over the first three years of his deal, Rapoport tweets. He can also earn another $6MM in incentives, which could push the maximum value of the deal to $78M.

Hunter’s new deal gives him a $14.4MM average annual value, which gives him just a bit less than that of teammate Everson Griffen. Last summer, Griffin inked a four-year, $58MM extension with $18.8MM fully guaranteed at signing. That pact gave Griffen an AAV of $14.5MM.

The Vikings have been aggressive in locking up their core players, but there’s still more work to be done in that area. They’ll have to address linebacker Anthony Barr‘s contract, since he is set for free agency after he plays out his fifth-year option this year. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is also slated to hit the open market when his rookie deal expires at the end of the 2018 season.

Hunter, a third-round pick in 2015, has registered 25.5 sacks in three NFL seasons. That stat ranks first among all players who entered the league in 2015, which is to say that he has outperformed Vic BeasleyLeonard Williams, and other notables who were taken ahead of him. In that span, Hunter and Griffen have combined for 57 combined sacks, the second most of any duo in the league from 2015-17. Only Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap of the Bengals (58) have had more over that stretch.

Hunter, who graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 29 ranked edge defender in the NFL last year, may have been able to earn even more on the open market next year. However, the 23-year-old (24 in October) has opted for security over upside. It’s hard to find fault with Hunter playing it safe here, however, given the aggressive cash flow he has secured in the early part of the contract.

The Vikings now have most of their most important players locked up through at least 2020. Quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, wide receiver Adam Thielen, offensive tackle Riley Reiff, center Pat Elflein, linebacker Erik Kendricks, safety Harrison Smith, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Griffen, and Hunter are all under contract for the next three seasons or more.

Hunter is represented by agent Zeke Sandhu, who will turn his attention to extension talks for Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. next.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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