Hunter, 26, sat out the 2020 NFL season with a herniated disk that required surgery last October. At the time of his surgery, it was reported that he was unhappy with the state of his contract and wanted a reworked deal ahead of the 2021 season.
Hunter, who had 54.5 sacks through his first five NFL seasons and earned back-to-back Pro Bowl honors, signed an extension in 2018 and is under contract for the next three seasons. In spite of his production, becoming the fastest player ever to reach 50 sacks after notching double-digit sack seasons in 2018 and 2019, Hunter is the 13th-highest-paid defensive end, with an average salary of $14.4 million per year.
NFL Network, which first reported that Hunter planned to attend minicamp, is reporting that the Vikings and Hunter have agreed to terms on a reworked deal that will give him $5.6 million of the $12.15 million base salary he is set to make in 2021 as a signing bonus. Hunter now has an $18 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2022 league year.
With $14.272 million in cap space, the Vikings moved up a significant amount of money to satisfy Hunter's desire for more compensation in the short term while allowing both parties the time to work out a long-term extension following the 2021 season. The Vikings will need to make a decision on Hunter's future by the fifth day of the 2022 league year by either picking up his $18 million roster bonus or releasing the defensive end.
If the former happens, the Vikings are primed to have two players with cap hits north of $20 million in 2022 with Hunter and quarterback Kirk Cousins ($45 million).
Hunter sacrificed a $100,000 workout bonus this spring when he did not attend organized team activities. He has posted several photos of himself working out throughout the offseason, and the Vikings have maintained the stance that they expect him to be healthy and back in the mix in 2021.