That’s Danielle Hunter in the headline’s picture when the Vikings hosted the 49ers last year for joint practices. Hunter would start on a roster of the all “get-off-the-bus team.” He’s quite the specimen.
It also helps that Hunter is one of the most productive pass rushers in the NFL, which has been the case since he entered the league. Last year, Hunter finished with 10.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, and 57 pressures.
Heading into the 2023 season, Hunter is holding out of the Vikings mandatory minicamp amidst rumors that he’s been unhappy with his contract situation, which has led to Hunter being subject to a trade.
Hunter signed an extension with Minnesota in 2019, but that contract has been restructured twice, and now, it’s unlikely that Hunter will see all of that money now that the money has been kicked down the road and there are no promises, as that cash is tied to per-game roster bonuses instead of it being guaranteed.
Hunter, 29, will see his contract void after this season. According to Over the Cap, the Vikings could release Hunter and would eat roughly $2 million in dead money this season, but that contract would be off the books next year. A trade would have similar numbers, though it’d be slightly different with proration.
Minnesota has moved on from Za’Darius Smith and recently Dalvin Cook. Hunter, who has been unhappy for a few seasons now, could be next. His cap number in 2023 post trade would be around $6 million. As of today, per OTC, the Niners have $10.6 million in cap space.
As we’ve seen based on their recent gaudy extensions, Nick Bosa’s new deal likely won’t impact the team’s cap situation for a couple of seasons. So, acquiring the likes of Hunter would come down to more about whether the Niners are willing to part ways with draft capital. Za’Darius was traded for three Day 3 picks, while Cook was released.
Hunter isn’t the only edge rusher who is on the perceived trade market. CBS recently listed seven potential suitors for Washington Commanders’ former top draft pick Chase Young, and the Niners were one of them:
Nick Bosa is about to command lucrative money as the headliner of their pass rushing group, and they just paid a fortune for Javon Hargrave to join the interior, but after losing both Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu in free agency, they could stand to add depth off the edge. San Francisco relies so much on its “D” while sticking to the ground on offense, so John Lynch might be willing to bet on the long-term upside.
We discussed the prospects of acquiring Young a little over a month ago after Washington neglected to pick up Young’s fifth-year option. Not much has changed since. Young isn’t anywhere near the caliber of player as Hunter.
The hope would be Kris Kocurek continues to turn water into wine and Young would benefit from playing alongside three Pro Bowl caliber players. The former No. 2 overall pick enters the final season of his rookie contract.
Young would cost the Niners roughly $5.3 million in ‘23, per Over the Cap. He wouldn’t cost as much draft capital as Hunter. Depending on how this year plays out, Young could have a breakout season, which could lead to a nice comp pick for the 49ers after 2023.
Whether San Francisco dips their toes into the pass rushing market hinges on how they feel about the current group of edge rushers on their team, namely, Drake Jackson. Reaching out to other teams would likely signal they feel Jackson or the other youngsters on the roster are still a year away from contributing.
Surprisingly, cap space in 2023 won’t be a hindrance. And neither player would command a top draft pick. Knowing that, it’d be an easy decision to take a swing at Hunter or Young.