Defensive end Danielle Hunter did not play at all in 2020 because of a neck injury that went from being called a “small tweak” by the team to being the reason for season-ending surgery.
At the time Hunter had that surgery, there was a report from NFL Media that the Vikings would have to decide whether to make Hunter the highest-paid defensive player or trade him before the 2021 season. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman suggested those were not the only options available to the team at a Wednesday press conference.
Spielman said “no” when asked if Hunter has asked the team to make him the highest-paid defensive player or trade him, but otherwise declined to discuss contractual matters. He did say that the team expects to have him back from the injury.
“From all indications of where he’s at in his rehab right now, I saw an Instagram picture of him yesterday. He looked pretty good. Excited to get him back here in the fold and get him going once we get started,” Spielman said.
Hunter’s current deal runs through 2023 and calls for him to make $12.15 million with a $17.25 million cap hit during the coming season. An extension that falls short of the highest salary for a defensive player — Joey Bosa averages $27 million per year — would bring that hit down, but Spielman’s comments did little to suggest whether that might be on the table.