Bears listed as trade partner for three-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter
Matt Krohn - USA Today Sports

Bears listed as trade partner for three-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter

by - Senior Writer -

It is no secret that Ryan Poles and the Bears would love to add more help to their defense. In particular, their front seven, where Chicago was the worst team in the league at getting after the QB. For that to happen, the Bears need to bring in a talented EDGE rusher, and several great options are still available on the free-agent market.

However, given how aggressive we have seen Poles be this offseason, not only is he still targeting pass rushers, but he isn't inclined to trade for instead of signing one on the open market. One of the most recent names that have popped up is not only intriguing, but one the Bears are very familiar with, as Vikings Edge Danielle Hunter is mentioned with the Bears as a potential trade destination.

Since adding Brian Flores as their defensive coordinator this offseason, the Viking's defense has gone through a complete overhaul, but when you look at their struggles a season ago, it shouldn't shock you. Several big names were let go, including Patrick Peterson and Eric Kendricks, while the Vikings recently traded away Zadarious Smith to the Cleveland Browns. Could Hunter be next on the chopping block for Minnesota?

Hunter has made it clear that he is not happy with his current contract and would like an extension. This is the final year of his four-year $72 million dollar deal, but with no extension imminent, it appears that Hunter will be on the trade block all season unless something is resolved. When healthy, Hunter has proven to be one of the more dominating EDGE rushers in the game and is only making $4.9 million this season.

That is well below market value for a guy with his production, so you can see the disconnect between him and Minnesota. Despite his success, health remains an issue, as he has had difficulty staying healthy the past few seasons. After dealing with a neck injury in 2020, Hunter returned in 2021 only to see his season cut short after seven games with a torn pec.

2022 saw him be much more durable, but his production was way down from what it was in the past. A lot of that could have been the new defensive scheme the Vikings put in last season, but some of it could have been the lingering effects of two lengthy injuries. 2023 will be a massive year for Hunter, and it could significantly affect his next contract.

Of all the names available or of the names the Bears could trade for, Hunter should be near the top, if not at the top of their list. He earned his third trip to the Pro Bowl last season, amassing 10.5 sacks and 34 quarterback pressures. Hunter tallied six sacks in just seven games in 2021. He amassed 14.5 sacks in his last two full campaigns in 2018 and 2019.

Across his NFL career, Hunter has registered nearly 400 career tackles and 71 sacks. That is more production than anyone on this current roster, and he would give the Bears an added element on the defense they haven't had in a few seasons.

When healthy, Hunter has shown what he can do as he has four double-digit sack seasons, including the last three seasons when he played at least 14 games. 2021 could have been a career year for him, as he averaged about one sack per game before the injury.

For a team that only had 20 sacks combined last season, Hunter will immediately add to that and could come close to surpassing that total on his own.

Trading for Hunter is a logical option for Chicago, but it will not come cheap. Minnesota will want draft picks, but fortunately, the Bears have some of those to part with. What Poles has going for him, however, is that this is the final year of Hunter's contract. That alone means he will not require the high asking price he would if he was under contract, which plays into the Bear's hands.

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