The team converted $5.6MM of the veteran defensive end’s contract to a signing bonus, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This will give the seventh-year veteran a nice cash influx and also put the Vikings to a decision next year. While Hunter is still signed through the 2023 season, this contract adjustment may change that.
Hunter’s deal now includes an $18MM roster bonus due on Day 5 of the 2022 league year, Rapoport tweets. This will put the Vikings to a decision on their Pro Bowl sack artist. Hunter being part of the Vikings in 2022 will likely depend on his health. He missed all of last season due to a herniated disk in his neck, placing the 26-year-old defender in a less-than-ideal negotiating position.
Hunter’s injury, however, greatly impacted the Vikings. They sported a porous defense for the first time in Mike Zimmer‘s tenure, with a younger group battling other injuries and lacking for reliable pressure threats. Bringing Hunter back into the fold stands to be significant for a Vikings team that devoted key offseason resources to upgrading its defense.
When Hunter signed his five-year, $72MM deal three summers ago, a consensus emerged that the Vikings scored a big win. Hunter then made the next two Pro Bowls with 14.5-sack seasons in 2018 and ’19. Less accomplished pass rushers then cashed in. Going into the 2021 season, Hunter is the NFL’s 17th-highest-paid edge defender. The Vikings, however, have given him a path to change that status.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.