Vikings GM Discusses Extensions, Hunter, Future

Earlier today, the Vikings and pass rusher Danielle Hunter agreed to a lucrative five-year, $72MM extension. With the deal, the organization has now locked up many of their core players through at least 2020, including 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, and defensive end Everson Griffen.

Following the news, general manager Rick Spielman addressed the media, touching on a number of relevant points (including the team’s willingness to still sign Anthony Barr and Stefon Diggs to extensions, which we covered earlier). Lindsey Young of passed along some of the soundbites from the press conference, and we compiled some of the more notable quotes below:

On the Vikings ability to hit on players at any point of the draft (including Hunter in the third round):

“Ever since [Head Coach Mike] Zimmer has been here and we’ve come together, and the way we’ve kind of tailored our drafts, taking guys like this who might not be as polished right out of college, but you see that they have this tremendous upside, and they have these tremendous physical traits. And they’re quality people – they want to really work, and they have passion for the game.

“When they check all of our boxes, then we feel that we have a pretty good chance of having success and hitting on those types of guys.”

On the important of Hunter:

“Pass-rushers are a premium in this league, especially with the way offenses have developed. You have to be able to rush the passer, and Danielle fits like a lot of guys we’ve been able to extend. They come in, they’re high character people, they work extremely hard, they have a passion for the game, and they’re taking to the coaching they’re getting.”

On any worries about a player becoming complacent after signing a lucrative contract:

“Even when they get these contracts and the contract extensions that we’ve done in the past, it seems like those guys take it to the next step after they get these kinds of contracts. And I think that’s, one, the coaching they’re getting and two, hopefully we’re bringing in those types of guys that the game and the passion for the game means something.”

On the difficulty of retaining the Vikings core:

“We started this planning three years ago, and we’re always, we’re planning for the next three years. It’s a combination of us being able to keep this team together but also rewarding the players as they show success on the field and that they’re doing the right things off the field, as well. But it’s not easy.

“It seems like guys want to be here and want to be part of this culture, want to be a part of this organization and want to be a part of this community. They’re going to get rewarded for their success on the field financially, but also I think every one of these guys wants a chance to go in and win and wants to play for an organization that does things the right way, and to play with a group of coaches that have a history of taking guys and developing these guys and actually making them better than when they came in.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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