Lions Are Reportedly Interested in Signing Rival’s $94 Million Star Asset

The Detroit Lions have been linked to pending free agency defensive end Danielle Hunter in offseason speculations. So it was unsurprising when The Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling stated on the February 28 episode of the Access Vikings podcast that the Lions indicated interest in Hunter at the NFL combine.

Danielle Hunter named NFC Defensive Player of the Month - Daily Norseman

However, his co-host, Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, questioned whether that curiosity was real. Krammer speculated that the Lions’ interest in Hunter could push up the 29-year-old’s free agent value.

“How much of that is true?” How much of that is just a division opponent trying to do a smart thing by moving up a market for a man they want to get out of here?” Krammer said.

“[The Lions] would clearly want Danielle [Hunter] to have as many suitors as possible so that he can command a high enough market to either affect the Vikings’ salary cap issue or simply get him out of there. Which is what you’d want from a division rival.

Krammer and Goessling both stated that the Chicago Bears are also interested in Hunter. However, they hinted that the Bears may be attempting to raise the defensive end’s price.

According to Spotrac, Hunter has earned approximately $94.8 million in his NFL career. Hunter is expected to cash in again this offseason by accepting the biggest contract offer, according to two Star Tribune insiders.

Why the Lions Could Be Exaggerating Interest in DE Danielle Hunter

The Vikings have $41 million in cap space, according to Spotrac. However, quarterback Kirk Cousins might gobble up the majority of that empty space by himself. The Vikings are also poised to offer contract extensions to wide receiver Justin Jefferson and left tackle Christian Darrisaw within the next 18 months.

That doesn’t leave much room for Hunter, whom Krammer and Goessling believe the team regards as a good, but not outstanding, pass rusher.

However, if Hunter is not re-signed, the Vikings will have a significant vacancy at defensive end. So it’s not impossible that Minnesota would make an offer to Hunter.

However, if Hunter has a lot of suitors in free agency, signing him will be more difficult. Or, at the very least, he appears to have many admirers in free agency.

The Lions and Bears both have more cap room than the Vikings. If the Vikings pay Hunter more to avoid losing him to a division opponent, Minnesota will have less money to spend on other players.

Why the Lions Should Actually Be Interested in Hunter

It probably makes the most sense for the Bears to play chicken with Hunter and the Vikings. The Lions could play that as well, but as a 2024 Super Bowl candidate, they could also simply add Hunter as a pass rusher.

Hunter set a career high with 16.5 sacks, 83 total tackles, and 4 forced fumbles previous season. He also led the NFL with 23 tackles for a loss.

Hunter has five 10-sack seasons in his nine-year career, four of which have come since 2018. In his last 73 starts, he has 62 sacks, 77 tackles for loss, and 95 quarterback hits.

Hunter and edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson might form a formidable tandem for the Lions. Detroit also boasts Alim McNeill on the interior of its defensive line.

In 2023, Hutchinson and McNeill combined for 16.5 of the Lions’ 41 sacks during the regular season.

An improved pass rush will benefit Detroit’s passing defense. The Lions concluded the 2023 season ranked 27th in passing yards and 29th in net yards allowed per pass attempt.

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