“That deal and all of [the Vikings’] other Hunter conversations fell apart, and they threw him an extra $11.5 million to keep him happy,” Fowler wrote Wednesday.
It’s not exactly a shocking report, as there was plenty of smoke in July connecting Hunter and the Jaguars before a new contract for the pass rusher slammed that door shut. Recently, Hunter’s name has popped back up in connection with Jacksonville with the NFL trade deadline now less than a week away.
The Vikings’ upset victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7 to improve to 3-4 may mean Minnesota is less inclined to trade away one of its best players while still in the postseason hunt. But, if nothing else, the report that the Jaguars were close to a deal shows that general manager Trent Baalke isn’t — or wasn’t, at least — opposed to adding a premier pass rusher to a defense that already heavily features Josh Allen and Travon Walker.
There have been questions whether Baalke would be inclined to devote significant resources to add a pass rusher if that essentially meant admitting that the combination of a top 10 pick in Allen and a No. 1 overall pick in Walker weren’t enough. Perhaps a Jaguars defense that has played well so far in 2023 has Baalke no longer believing that’s necessary.
While it’s possible Hunter is no longer be available, there are a few other pass rushers who could catch the Jaguars’ eye. If the team was close to securing Hunter in July, it’d make sense if Jacksonville is still in the market now.