Is Danielle Hunter a realistic trade option for the Carolina Panthers?

Danielle Hunter
Danielle Hunter / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Could Danielle Hunter be a realistic trade option for the Carolina Panthers after the defensive end began his long-awaited holdout?

It seems as if the problems are getting bigger for the Minnesota Vikings. After cutting loose multiple established figures within the locker room this offseason, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah now has a complication on his hands regarding stud pass-rusher Danielle Hunter.

According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the former third-round pick out of LSU is holding out of Minnesota's mandatory minicamp. Hunter is reportedly looking for a new deal and this decision will do nothing to diminish the trade speculation linking the edge defender with a move elsewhere.

Carolina Panthers trade for Danielle Hunter seems unlikely

Although Kevin Seifert of ESPN stated that no serious trade talks had taken place as yet, the market would be robust for Hunter, who remains one of the most dominant pass-rushing presences around. Something that would drive the price up if the Vikings did eventually cut their losses.

"[Danielle] 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."

Just what the compensation would look like is anyone's guess. However, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN stated that Minnesota could potentially extract a second-round selection and more for Hunter providing there was sufficient competition for his services.

It's no secret that the Carolina Panthers could be in need of help opposite Brian Burns. The coaching staff is willing to give the likes of Marquis Haynes Sr., Yetur Gross-Matos, Amare Barno, and third-round pick D.J. Johnson a shot at prominent reps, even though Hunter represents a significant upgrade on any of the aforementioned quartet.

This is the sort of aggressive move general manager Scott Fitterer is normally associated with. Even so, anyone expecting the Panthers to make a bold bid for Hunter might be out of luck.

Obviously, this has nothing to do with Huner's talent. The Panthers gave up substantial assets for quarterback Bryce Young at No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, so Fitterer would be extremely reluctant to part ways with his second-rounder next year and leave the organization without a draft pick until Round No. 3.

Then, there is the financial aspect to consider. The primary reason why Hunter is taking such drastic measures centers on his desire for a new contract - something the Vikings might not be willing to provide given their clear transition to younger players throughout the spring.

Much has been made about Carolina having an abundance of salary-cap space. But giving Hunter a backloaded three or four-year deal doesn't seem in-keeping with how Fitterer and his staff have gone about their roster-building business this offseason.

As always at this time of year, there are speculation and rumors aplenty as writers look to fill the column inches before training camp. Hunter's ongoing saga brings its own set of drama, but it would be nothing short of staggering if the Panthers went in this direction no matter how much it would benefit their chances in 2023.

Banking on defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero coaxing more out of their current options is arguably a far bigger gamble than acquiring Hunter. Based on how Carolina has moved throughout the recruitment phase, it's a chance they're apparently willing to take.

As for Hunter, there could be a few twists and turns to come. And the longer it goes, the more money he stands to lose.