One of the NFL’s youngest defensive stars is now locked up through the 2023 season.
23-year-old defensive end Danielle Hunter and the Minnesota Vikings came to terms on a contract extension worth $72 million over five years on Wednesday, per an official team announcement. The contract includes $40 million in guarantees, a $15 million signing bonus, and an average annual salary of $14.4 million.
Reports of the extension came from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network before the Vikings later officially confirmed the news.
Hunter was a third-round pick by the Vikings in the 2015 NFL Draft (88th overall), and has established himself as quite the threat off the edge. In all 16 regular season games last season, Hunter had 45 total tackles, seven sacks, two pass deflections, and one forced fumble. Everson Griffen could often be found on the other end, and he had a monster year as well on the Vikings’ defensive line with 45 total tackles and 13.0 sacks.
“I was shaking with excitement,” Hunter told Vikings.com about what he was feeling before signing the extension. “I was like, ‘Is this real?’
“My body was just doing it, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it coming in here. I feel like it’s an important day for my family and I, and the team. I’m really excited about it.”
Using a long-term view, the Vikings now Hunter, Griffen, Linval Joseph, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, and Xavier Rhodes locked up for the foreseeable future. Linebacker Anthony Barr will likely be next on the docket for the Vikings front office when it comes to drawing up a new contract, as Barr is entering the final season of his contract in 2018.
As a team in 2017, the Vikings won the NFC North with a 13-3 regular season record and made the NFC Championship Game. They figure to have a good chance to repeat as division champions even with Aaron Rodgers back for the Green Bay Packers, as Dalvin Cook will be back to full strength while new quarterback Kirk Cousins will look to prove he was worth a fully-guaranteed contract.
Across three NFL seasons, Hunter has 134 total tackles, 25.5 sacks, 3 pass deflections, and 3 fumbles forced.
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