Danielle Hunter has been officially ruled out for the season after undergoing successful neck surgery to repair a herniated disc, head coach Mike Zimmer announced (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin). This was the expected move for Hunter, who has not seen the field in 2020.
Hunter recently got a second opinion from a specialist in New York, who told him to shut it down for the season. On the field, he’s been sorely missed, though the Vikings’ problems have not been limited to the edge rush. The Vikings have struggled to generate consistent pressure without Hunter, and they’re now trying to improve on that front without the services of Yannick Ngakoue, who was shipped to the Ravens earlier this month.
When the Vikings placed Hunter on injured reserve in September, they hoped that Hunter would be able to make his debut either this week or next. Instead, he’ll be shelved for the remainder of the season. Even in a best case scenario, it wouldn’t have been an easy call to activate him. At 1-5, the one-time Super Bowl contenders aren’t playing for much.
Last year, Hunter graded out as the No. 7 ranked edge rusher in the league, ahead of Cameron Jordan, Myles Garrett, Demarcus Lawrence, and a host of other big names. He notched 14.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, bringing his career tally to 54.5. He’ll still be tied to the team for years to come, thanks to the five-year, $72MM extension he inked in 2018.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.