Hunter, 28, is entering the final year of a contract he originally signed in 2018. A renegotiation last year moved a portion of his future compensation up to 2022, leaving him with a deal that calls for him to earn a base salary of $4.9 million in 2023 with weekly roster bonuses that could total $500,000.
He skipped the voluntary portion of the Vikings' offseason program as the sides discussed further contract adjustments, but the decision to hold out increases the stakes of the dispute. Skipping mandatory minicamp will subject him to mandatory fines of $16,459 for the first day and $32,920 for the second, according to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association, and calls into question whether he will report to training camp when it begins in late July.
Hunter, 28, returned last season from two years of injuries to record 10.5 sacks even after transitioning from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker. Multiple NFL teams have monitored his status this offseason, but there have been no serious trade talks to date.
Hunter's decision caps a busy offseason for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who has accelerated a roster revamp in the second year of what he has called a "competitive rebuild." He has bid farewell to four longtime veteran starters (receiver Adam Thielen, running back Dalvin Cook, linebacker Eric Kendricks and cornerback Patrick Peterson), convinced two to take a pay cut (safety Harrison Smith and linebacker Jordan Hicks) and traded one (pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith).
Adofo-Mensah did sign free agent pass-rusher Marcus Davenport to a one-year contract, but his arrival was initially viewed as a replacement for Za'Darius Smith. Fourth-year player D.J. Wonnum has been working in Hunter's spot during OTA practices.
The NFL Network first reported the news of Hunter's pending holdout.