The Minnesota Vikings are hosting a mandatory mini camp on Tuesday, June 15, and this event will immediately become a revealing highlight of the team’s 2021 season.
Most of the Vikings’ activities – hiring coaches, free agent acquisitions, and the draft – emerged with broad approval from Minnesota fans, but June 15 is the day of the circle in the calendar. It’s the day Danielle Hunter has to show up with Team EDGE for the little campers.
In the middle of March, the athleteChad Graff – a man known for fair and reliable reporting – told VikingsVille so Hunter is not satisfied with his current contract. Hunter signed a relatively friendly deal with the team in 2018, a period in his career when he hasn’t fully developed into the most popular force now. As of June 2021, though, Hunter is the 17th highest paid EDGE in the NFL, causing confusion for the Hunter camp and viewers of the sport. No matter how you analyze the situation, Hunter is already underpaid. The only rational mind that would theorize otherwise is the weight of his severe neck injury from 2020 – will Hunter return with the same production and fright he offered from 2015 to 2019?
For just that reason, it’s a curious time for the Vikings front desk to happily distribute truckloads of cash. If Hunter arrives in the first week of 2021 as a shell of his previous production — and continues after that — General Manager Rick Spielman is in troubling trouble. Hunter would probably want the top 5 EDGE money, so investing in a player recovering from their worst (neck) injury is risky – on paper.
The easiest way for fans to justify Hunter’s big paycheck is to view his 2018 and 2019 success as “deal stealing” or “paying back.” Otherwise, one would be resentful of paying the player currently surrounded by question marks regarding the injury.
However, the player side of the negotiating table rarely dedicates sympathy. Hunter, after a frightening injury, stopped for a long time to think about his place with the Vikings and the league as a whole. Now more than ever – if he’s self-serving (that’s what humans do) – it’s time for the money to be secured.
From the lens of an NFL owner, the investment is wonky. For the player, this is common sense.
This creates an aura of suspense until June 15th. Do you support the player who takes care of himself and his loved ones? Or do you view football players as assets used to win matches, like the gladiators in Rome? Hopefully, common ground will be achieved in the brains of rational people as both emotions in the argument prevail.
without A hunter tops the Vikings 2021 line of defense, the prognosis for a neat post-pandemic season is grim. Hunter is the only Pro Bowl-caliber passer on the Vikings roster, ensuring he has plenty of chips as he returns to the team on Tuesday (or eventually in September).
Stefon Diggs traded to Buffalo in 2020, his trade compensation shifted to (WR) Justin Jefferson, (DE) kenny Wilkes, (small) Camryn Bynum, (DE) Yanarius Robinson, and Zach Davidson (TE). This is fresh in the minds of trade analysts as a success for Minnesota (and Buffalo), but super talent like Justin Jefferson rarely gets into circulation.
The 2021 Vikings – with coach Mike Zimmer’s job likely in a pivotal place – can’t handle life without a Hunter – or roll the dice at a Diggs for-Jefferson-like deal. Zimmer’s defense needs a dash of hunter’s passing to pull the group to advantage in 2014-2019.
If Hunter appears on Tuesday in Eagan, the odds of holding the kumbaya are much easier to achieve.
In the event Hunter does not show up, buckle up because his violation will completely dominate all Viking affairs until a solution is found.