Danielle Hunter

Vikings DE Danielle Hunter Reworks Contract

10:38am: The Vikings converted $8MM of Hunter’s $10.9MM salary into a signing bonus, according to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin (via Twitter). The pass-rushers $14.5MM cap hit has been reduced to $9MM.

8:33am: Danielle Hunter has reworked his contract. The NFL’s transactions page listed the defensive end as having “signed, renegotiated contract,” per Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com.

It’s unclear how Hunter’s contract has changed. Tomasson notes that $10.4MM of Hunter’s $10.9MM 2020 base salary was set to become fully-guaranteed on Friday. The Vikings have been scrambling around for some extra cap space, and restructuring contracts is one natural solution.

The 2015 third-round pick has emerged into one of the NFL’s top pass rushers, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods during his five years with Minnesota. That includes a 2019 campaign where Hunter compiled 70 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and 14.5 sacks – the second-straight season that he’s finished with that many sacks.

The Vikings’ cap problems may have played a role in their breakup with Everson Griffen. Yesterday, the player’s agent said they’ve “broken off talks with Minnesota because they have to spend their money elsewhere.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Details On Danielle Hunter’s Extension

Continuing their recent run of defensive fortification, the Vikings agreed to a five-year, $72MM deal with Danielle Hunter. He’s now the second-highest-paid player on Minnesota’s defense, coming in behind only Xavier Rhodes.

Locked up through 2023, Hunter will earn $37.9MM across the first three years of this contract, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. That’s down from a previously reported $48MM figure. This season won’t feature a substantial hit to the Vikings’ payroll, with Krammer noting Hunter’s 2018 cap number will come in at just $5MM. After this season, the eight-figure hits start coming.

The 23-year-old defensive end will count $13MM toward Minnesota’s 2019 cap and $14MM in 2020. In 2021 and ’22, Hunter’s deal will represent $15MM of the Vikes’ payroll. Of course, the cap can be expected to reside north of $200MM by then, so these numbers — on a deal that can be classified as Vikings-friendly — may not look especially imposing once the next decade begins.

Incentives also appear in this contract but don’t comprise too much of it. Krammer adds that Hunter’s re-up contains $6MM in incentives across its five-year span. There are also $2.5MM in total per-game roster bonuses and $500K in workout bonuses housed in this agreement, per Krammer.

The Vikings now have Hunter, Rhodes, Everson Griffen, Eric Kendricks, Linval Joseph and Harrison Smith signed long-term. This sextet is all locked in through at least the 2021 season. While an extension for Anthony Barr is being discussed, the Vikings already have a substantial portion of their defensive core under team control for the foreseeable future.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Danielle Hunter’s Extension

On Wednesday, the Vikings and Danielle Hunter agreed to a five-year, $72MM extension. The new deal, which will keep Hunter in place through 2023, is said to include $40MM in guarantees, giving the 23-year-old plenty of financial security. Still, many are wondering whether Hunter should have waited in order to get more out of the Vikings.

Here’s a look at some of the reactions to Hunter’s brand new deal:

  • The deal is a team-friendly “steal” for the Vikings, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap (via Twitter links) opines. Hunter, he feels, could have targeted Olivier Vernon‘s five-year, $85MM deal had he notched about ten sacks this year and entered the free agent market in ’19. Hunter’s deal gives him nearly as much as teammate Everson Griffen, but Hunter is significantly younger and is on his way to being equally productive. At minimum, Fitzgerald feels that Hunter would have been better served by waiting for the market to reset at $20MM/year when Khalil Mack and others sign their next deals.
  • Hunter didn’t top Vernon, but Cowboys star DeMarcus Lawrence should blow right past him, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets. As Corry notes, Lawrence and Vernon are both represented agent by David Canter.
  • With Hunter locked up, Vikings GM Rick Spielman indicated that wide receiver Stefon Diggs and linebacker Anthony Barr may be next up for extensions (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin). “We want to keep all of our guys and we’ll try to see if there’s a way that we can do that because not only, those guys are very important to us and would love to get them locked up as well,” the GM said.

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 NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a five-year deal worth $72MM, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (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.

Vikings Looking To Extend Barr, Diggs, Hunter

Despite spending heavily on Kirk Cousins this offseason, the Vikings are still intent on trying to keep their core of young players together. This includes Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter, who the team hopes to extend according to Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Though they hope to get the deals done, the Vikings know that will be a tough task. General manager Rick Spielman said, “We’re still going to try. Is it going to be easy? No.”

Diggs and Hunter are some of the best bargains in the business at the moment, both costing just $1.9MM against the cap in 2018. The Vikings picked up Barr’s fifth-year option in 2017 and he is set to cost $12.3MM in the upcoming season. All three deals are set to expire after the 2018 season.

Scoggins adds that Spielman and team executive vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski have been planning for this for three years, which led them to signing Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph to extensions despite them having additional years remaining.

Though it might be difficult to keep everyone around, if they are able to crunch the numbers they won’t have any pushback from ownership. Spielman said they have never heard “no” from the Wilfs on a potential deal.

It would be difficult to see the Vikings parting with Diggs, who just authored arguably the most famous play in team history when his touchdown grab vs. New Orleans as time expired sent Minnesota to the NFC Championship game.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2018 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Jay Ajayi (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.908MM in 2018. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2018 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Trent Brown, T; Eli Harold, LB

Bears: Adrian Amos, S

Bengals: Tyler Kroft, TE; Josh Shaw, DB

Bills: John Miller, G

Broncos: Max Garcia, G; Trevor Siemian, QB

Browns: Duke Johnson, RB

Buccaneers: Kwon Alexander, LB

Cardinals: David Johnson, RB; J.J. Nelson, WR

Chargers: Kyle Emanuel, LB

Chiefs: Chris Conley, WR; Steven Nelson, CB

Colts: Henry Anderson, DE; Mark Glowinski, G; Denzelle Good, OL

Dolphins: Bobby McCain, CB

Eagles: Jay Ajayi, RB; Jordan Hicks, LB

Falcons: Grady Jarrett, DT

Jaguars: A.J. Cann, OL

Lions: Quandre Diggs, CB

Packers: Jake Ryan, LB

Panthers: Daryl Williams, T

Patriots: Trey Flowers, DE; Shaq Mason, G

Raiders: Clive Walford, TE

Rams: Jamon Brown, G

Ravens: Za’Darius Smith, LB

Redskins: T.J. Clemmings, OL; Jamison Crowder, WR

Saints: Tyeler Davison, DT

Seahawks: Tyler Lockett, WR

Steelers: Jesse James, TE

Vikings: Stefon Diggs, WR; Danielle Hunter, DE

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Vikings Sign Entire Draft Class

Well, that was pretty easy for the Vikings. While most teams tend to sign their draft choices in drips and drabs, the Vikings announced that they have signed their entire 2015 draft class. Those ten rookies are:

  • Round 1, CB Trae Waynes
  • Round 2: LB Eric Kendricks
  • Round 3: DE Danielle Hunter
  • Round 4: OL T.J. Clemmings
  • Round 5: TE Mycol Pruitt
  • Round 5: WR Stefon Diggs
  • Round 6: OL Tyrus Thompson
  • Round 6: DL B.J. Dubose
  • Round 7: OL Austin Shepherd
  • Round 7: LB Edmond Robinson

The signing of Waynes was leaked out earlier today by Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The eleventh player selected in the 2015 draft, Waynes will earn nearly $13MM over the life of his rookie contract, and will have the opportunity to make several extra million in 2019 if Minnesota exercises his fifth-year option. Because he just missed the cutoff to be a top-10 pick, Waynes’ fifth year won’t be as pricey as it otherwise would’ve — those amounts aren’t known yet, but for 2016 options, the difference in salaries between a top-10 cornerback and a corner picked between 11th and 32nd exceeded $3.5MM.

Kendricks was last season’s Butkus Award winner, giving him the crown of best collegiate linebacker in the country. Kendricks’ brother, Mychal, plays for the Eagles and father Marvin Kendricks, played running back at UCLA and enjoyed a stint in the CFL.

With ten UDFAs also in the fold, the Vikings’ roster is now at 90 players, according to the press release.

Vikings Rumors: Smith, Kalil, Kendricks

The Vikings are going down to the wire in announcing their decision on whether or not to pick up the fifth-year options for Harrison Smith and Matt Kalil. GM Rick Spielman will announce those moves Monday, reports ESPN’s Ben Goessling on Twitter.

Today was initially the deadline for teams to decide on whether or not to extend their 2012 first-round picks, but since it fell on a Sunday, teams now have until midnight tomorrow to make those calls. Goessling noted he doesn’t expect drama with either decision, with Smith’s fifth year in Minneapolis certainly forthcoming.

Kalil’s option, which would cost $11.096MM, won’t be as easy of a decision. A late first-rounder in 2012, Smith’s become one of the league’s better safeties, while Kalil has regressed considerably since a promising rookie campaign, bottoming out last season with a Pro Football Focus ranking (subscription required) of 81st among 84 graded tackles.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter Mark Craig expects Kalil’s option to be picked up (Twitter link).

Some other rumors coming out of Minnesota on Sunday night …

  • Beyond first-round cornerback Trae Waynes, the Vikings expect multiple-position availability from their draft picks, reports Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Chief among the potential versatile draftees are second-rounder Eric Kendricks (middle and weakside linebacker), third-rounder Danielle Hunter (multiple defensive line positions) and fourth-rounder T.J. Clemmings (left and right tackle), according to Tomasson.
  • The Vikings not drafting a safety is a vote of confidence for 2014 sixth-rounder Antone Exum, reports Tomasson. Spielman noted to Tomasson he’s “excited about” Exum’s progress despite the second-year safety only playing 16 snaps last season behind Smith and Robert Blanton, who both graded out positively last season on Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics.
  • Also from Tomasson: the Vikings will slot former Alabama tackle Austin Shepherd at guard, where he played at the Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-5 rookie said half of the teams he spoke to before the draft sought him at tackle, with the other half preferring to see how he can transition to guard.
  • Kendricks will be the Vikings rookie that flashes most this season, writes Matt Vensel of the Star-Tribune. Kendricks’ coverage ability stood out to draft experts, and Vensel notes the ex-UCLA backer has a good chance of starting Week 1 between Chad Greenway and Anthony BarrWaynes could have to open the season behind either Captain Munnerlyn or Terence Newman.
  • Former Vikings offensive line coach Jim Hueber was surprised Clemmings, who he coached at Pittsburgh, made it to Day 3 without finding an employer, viewing the former college defensive lineman and standout basketball player as a steal, per Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

NFC Notes: Staley, Draft, Cowboys, Lions

The 49ers converted Joe Staley‘s option bonus to a signing bonus, affecting his cap number for 2015, as CBSSports.com’s Joel Corry (Twitter links) explains. Staley’s cap number has gone from $6.4MM to $7.6MM after his $6MM option bonus was converted. San Francisco, meanwhile, will get a salary cap credit of $1.2MM in 2016. The accounting move won’t result in a salary increase for the offensive tackle. Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap explicates the transaction.

Here’s more the NFC…

  • The Buccaneers‘ private workout with Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is set for tomorrow in Eugene, Albert Breer of NFL.com tweets.
  • The Cowboys have filled most their 30 allowed spots for draft visits, writes Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, who reports the following players have headed or will head to Valley Ranch in the coming days: running backs T.J. Yeldon, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Jay Ajayi, and Ameer Adbullah; defensive lineman Bud Dupree and Danielle Hunter; linebacker Benardrick McKinney; and defensive backs Josh Shaw and Damarious Randall.
  • The Cowboys will also take a look at a defensive lineman tomorrow, as they’ll meet with UCLA DE Owa Odighizuma, per Rapoport (Twitter link), who adds that the former Bruin will also visit with the Saints. Odighizuma has already visited the Eagles.
  • Dallas will be flush with prospects on Tuesday, as the Cowboys will also visit with both versatile Washington product Shaq Thompson and UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks, according to Rapoport (Twitter link).
  • Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com takes an overview of the Lions’ roster, noting that while linebacker is a deep position group, Detroit could afford to spend draft resources on the interior of both the offensive and defensive lines.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Draft Notes: Mariota, Cowboys, Ravens, Giants

Some assorted draft notes on this Saturday morning…

  • Marcus Mariota is scheduled to meet with the Chargers in mid-April, reports NFL.com’s Albert Breer (via Twitter). The writer notes that Washington is also trying to set up a visit with the prospect.
  • The group over at CSNChicago.com analyzed the draft stock of prospect Gerod Hollimon, and the group concluded that the former Louisville safety would be a fit for the Bears. Despite the team’s addition of Antrel Rolle, the prospect’s “ballhawking” and “good coverage skills” are sorely need in Chicago.
  • Cowboys representatives were on hand at TCU’s Pro Day on Friday to watch linebacker Paul Dawson workout, writes Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News. Despite the player’s disappointing performance at the league’s scouting combine, scouts were much more impressed this time around, Sabin reports.
  • Louisville wideout DeVante Parker is set to meet with the Ravens, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. The projected first-round pick is also scheduled to meet with the Titans and Dolphins. Despite missing seven games this past season, Parker still finished with 43 catches for 855 yards and five touchdowns.
  • The Giants attended LSU’s Pro Day on Friday, according to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. The writer points to offensive lineman La’el Collins as a realistic target for the G-Men, and he also includes cornerback Jalen Collins, linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive end Danielle Hunter among the school’s top prospects. The Giants have selected numerous LSU alumni in recent years, including wideout Odell Beckham last season.