Whatever discord exists between the Vikings and star defensive end Danielle Hunter did not disappear in the last 24 hours, with the sides agreeing to a modification of Hunter's contract that gives him more money in 2021 and ensured Hunter's arrival at minicamp this week.
But it did accomplish four things, which I talked about on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
First, it delayed any real hard decisions about Hunter to 2022, which is probably smart for both the Vikings and Hunter. If he proves he's healthy and returns to his dominant level of play, Hunter should be due for a big payday next year from the Vikings or some other team. If not, the Vikings haven't over-committed to him.
Second, it gets a dominant player back on the field as soon as minicamp for the Vikings. As they try to get the pieces of their defense back in place, knowing Hunter is part of the plan going forward should give Minnesota a certain amount of security.
Third, in tandem with their pursuit of Sheldon Richardson, compromising with Hunter instead of throwing up their hands and trading him is a move by the Vikings that sends another clear signal that they are loading up to try to win in 2021. Whether that's simply a function of trying to be competitive after last year's defensive disaster ... or a nod to the perhaps tenuous job security of Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer, who perhaps feel pressure to deliver a strong season after going 7-9 a year ago ... or a hunch that the division could be up for grabs given the Aaron Rodgers situation in Green Bay ... is unclear. Maybe it's a combination of all three?
Fourth, as noted regarding Rodgers, it gives the Vikings a tidy resolution to a situation with a star player that stands in stark contrast to the scene in Green Bay. The Packers' offseason continues to be filled with drama and uncertainty — and at this point, there is no resolution in sight.
The story line with Hunter will resume eventually, but it should be quiet for several months. The stakes with Rodgers are higher than they ever would be with Hunter, but nonetheless being able to focus attention on the field instead of off the field is always good for a team and players.
The Vikings and Hunter made that happen this week. Now we'll see how the rest of 2021 plays out.