Ryan Poles

Assessing Bears as trade destination for Vikings' Danielle Hunter

The Vikings have drastically reshaped their roster, and there are reports Hunter could be on his way out of Minnesota too

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The Minnesota Vikings have completely reshaped the core of their franchise this offseason. One year after new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and new head coach Kevin O’Connell took over the roster the team has made wholesale changes, despite finishing 2022 with a 13-4 record and entering 2023 without Aaron Rodgers in their way for a title defense.

The biggest move is expected to come on Friday, when it’s reported the Vikings will cut Dalvin Cook if they can’t find a team willing to trade for him. Other household names are gone too. The team cut wide receiver Adam Thielen and linebacker Eric Kendriks earlier this year. The pair combined for 18 years worth of experience playing for the Vikings. Two starting cornerbacks, the legendary Patrick Peterson and 2020 draft pick Cameron Dantzler are both gone. The Vikings traded marquee pass rusher Za’Darius Smith just one year after signing him. 

These aren’t a few tweaks to replace some aging stars with younger talent. It’s a wide scale re-tooling. There’s talk that the Vikings may not be done yet, with reports that another big time pass rusher, Danielle Hunter could be on the move next.

Could the Bears be the team that trades for Hunter? They certainly have room to add a pass rusher with his track record. Last season the Bears ranked dead last in the NFL just 20 sacks. Hunter has 71 sacks to his name over seven seasons in Minnesota. That includes four seasons of 10+ sacks. Currently the Bears have no defensive ends with a single 10-sack season on their resume. Trevis Gipson and DeMarcus Walker are tied with a career-high at seven sacks.

Hunter also has plenty of experience playing defensive end, so he wouldn’t need to convert to the position from outside linebacker. A move like that is intriguing, but comes with some uncertainties since not all players can make the transition seamlessly.

Ryan Poles has shown he’s not afraid to use his draft capital to make a big move that he believes will help the team. See last year’s Chase Claypool trade. The Bears still have the most financial flexibility to offer Hunter a new contract among all NFL teams. Poles seems primed to extend Cole Kmet and has similar decisions to make about Darnell Mooney and Jaylon Johnson, but if Poles wants to prioritize pass rush, he has the resources to do so.

There’s one problem though. The Bears and Vikings are division rivals, and deals between teams in the same division rarely happen. Why would the Vikings want to risk Kirk Cousins getting rocked by Hunter twice a year for the foreseeable future when they can send him to another team and see him far, far less often?

If Hunter played for any other team, rumors of Hunter coming to Chicago would probably have some legs. Given reports that interest in Hunter is high, the chances of the Vikings and Bears coming together for a trade feel much less likely.

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