NFL

The Minnesota Vikings May Have Just Lost Their $72 Million Star for Good

The Minnesota Vikings have gotten off to a rocky start to begin the 2020 season. The Vikings have fallen well out of the playoff picture, which has put into focus their long-term future. The franchise just saw matters worsen after taking another massive blow with losing one of their star defensive players for the rest of the season, and possibly for good.

Vikings’ rough start to the 2020 season

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The Minnesota Vikings entered the 2020 season with high aspirations toward contending for the Super Bowl.

Things have not played out anywhere near that pathway as the Vikings have dropped five out of their first six games. Minnesota has struggled drastically defensively, ranking second-worst by allowing 32.0 points, including giving up north of 30 points three times and more than 20 points in each contest.

Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins has had difficulty finding his footing, which has put forth some serious questions concerning his long-term future with the franchise. All that has pushed the Vikings into the cellar of the NFC North, sitting four games behind the Chicago Bears for the division lead.

The circumstances for Minnesota have taken yet another disappointing step south as the team has lost one of their defensive stars for the rest of the season.

Danielle Hunter will undergo season-ending surgery

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The Minnesota Vikings waived the proverbial white flag on Thursday morning after trading star defensive end Yanick Ngakoue.

According to Tom Pelissero of The NFL Network, Minnesota just took another crushing blow with star defensive end Danielle Hunter expected to undergo surgery repair a herniated disc in his neck. 

The Vikings initially hoped that Hunter could rehab from the injury and avoid any procedure. The team had brought aboard Ngakoue after the offseason departure of Everson Griffen with the aspirations of pairing the two Pro Bowlers. 

Over the last few seasons, the 25-year-old has become one of the league’s best pass rushers. Hunter is coming off back-to-back campaigns with 14.5 sacks, including double-digit totals in three out of the last four years. He has tallied 54.5 career sacks in five seasons that earned him a pair of Pro Bowl selections and a Second-Team All-Pro nod.

The surgery to end the 2020 season could mean much more for Hunter as it may signal he has played his last snap for the franchise.

Massive change ahead in Minnesota?

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The Minnesota Vikings pushed their chips all-in over the last few seasons, but it hasn’t panned out in the manner hoped.

Minnesota could see things take another left turn as Danielle Hunter’s injury could mean much more than being sidelined for the rest of the 2020 campaign. Ian Rapoport of The NFL Network indicated on Thursday that Hunter would likely demand a new contract next offseason.

The two-time Pro Bowler still has three years left on his five-year, $72 million deal. However, his performance has well outplayed his annual value. Hunter may force the Vikings’ hand to trade him if they are unwilling to make him the highest-paid defensive player in the league.

His $14.4 million annually currently makes him the 42nd highest-paid defensive player and 15th overall at the defensive end position. Joey Bosa holds that prestigious title with $27 million per season under his recent five-year, $135 million extension with the LA Chargers from this past offseason.

The situation is entirely up to the Vikings to either shell out a massive pay raise or trade Hunter away. It’s one of the many decisions Minnesota has to make in the upcoming offseason that will greatly shape the franchise’s future.