If the Chicago Bears are serious about trying to upgrade their pass rush before the season starts, they need to be keeping tabs on Danielle Hunter’s looming contract situation with the Minnesota Vikings.
Hunter, 28, is heading into the final year of a five-year, $72 million contract after logging double-digit sacks for the third time in four seasons. He is sitting out of OTAs and might not show up to veteran minicamp barring a new deal or trade which could give the Bears an opportunity to swoop in.
“Danielle Hunter would have real trade value (might take a 2+ to pry),” tweeted ESPN Senior writer Jeremy Fowler on June 12. “Sense is Vikings would prefer to retain him.”
That sounds like the Vikings don’t plan on taking the loss if they do agree to move Hunter.
Cost to Trade for Vikings Danielle Hunter Could Work for Bears
Bears Can Afford to Trade for Vikings’ Hunter
The Bears are uniquely positioned to both satisfy what the Vikings are asking for but also not restrict themselves in future drafts as they have done with previous star trades in years past like acquiring Khalil Mack.
Chicago owns the Carolina Panthers’ first-round pick in 2024, their own picks in rounds two through six, and an additional fourth-rounder from the Philadelphia Eagles.
That is, in theory, more than enough ammunition to give the Vikings a second-round pick and then some while still having the ability to move one of the first-rounders in a trade down on draft night next summer. The Bears still sit pretty in terms of cap space and figure to be up near the top in potential spending power next season once again.
.@DHunt94_TX comes up with the HUGE sack!!
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 15, 2023
They already project to have more than $84 million to spend in 2024.
They can get to another roughly $20-plus million if they waive Eddie Jackson and Cody Whitehair after this season. There will be plenty of roster spots to fill but they could have what they hope is a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields and a franchise pass rusher in Hunter.
Hunter would add teeth to a defense that recorded just 20 sacks in 2022, the third-fewest in franchise history, per Stathead.
Bears Working With Rivals
While some fans may be leery of working with an NFC North rival, the Bears have done so in the very recent past, and with the Vikings no less. The two teams swapped draft picks with Chicago picking up the rights to EDGE Trevis Gipson in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft (No. 155) while Minnesota received a 2021 fourth-rounder (Camryn Bynum).
Gipson, 25, is heading into the final year of his rookie contract and has 10.0 career sacks.
That is the only trade between the two organizations at least since 1994 which is as far back as Stathead’s database goes.
From Inside Minicamps LIVE on NFL+: The #Vikings are receiving trade calls centered around star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter, and the interest is real, sources say. A look inside the complex situation… pic.twitter.com/GKx98NSx0n
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 7, 2023
The Bears completed one trade with the Green Bay Packers in that timeframe, sending them the No. 213 overall pick which they turned into three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Donald Driver in exchange for two-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro Glyn Milburn.
The Bears have not done any deals with the Detroit Lions in that span but Detroit did trade Milburn to Green Bay just one week prior to his being dealt to Chicago. And Minnesota traded with Detroit on two separate occasions in 2022, most notably sending tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Lions with several draft picks also changing hands.
Bears ‘Interested’ in Free Agents
While Hunter and fellow potential trade candidate Chase Young of the Washington Commanders are splashy options, the Bears have taken a very calculated, methodical approach to building out this roster.
The Bears traded a second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for receiver Chase Claypool.
They would almost surely have to jump at possibly only having to pay slightly more to acquire someone of Huntre’s caliber, even if you want to factor in a potential rate hike for working with a division rival.