NFL free agency will (un)officially begin on Monday at 12 p.m. ET when the legal tampering window marks its arrival. Franchises will begin negotiating “hypothetical” contracts with unrestricted free agents from competing teams and verbal agreements can be reached.
Typically speaking, the initiation of the negotiation period welcomes a flurry of activity, and Monday afternoon should be a busy one in the world of professional football. It will welcome the continuation of what’s been one of the busiest and unpredictable time periods in NFL history. Free agency undeniably looms large, but you should expect a plethora of trades, too.
Over the course of the past 10 days, the likes of Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper have been traded, to name a few. Minnesota EDGE rusher Danielle Hunter is another veteran superstar that may find himself on the move.
According to multiple reports, teams have inquired about Hunter’s availability via trade. The former LSU standout is due a sizable roster bonus ($18 million) on March 20, and a deal would likely be struck before then should the Vikings possess interest in moving their star pass rusher.
We’ve identified three franchises that should attempt to complete a trade for Hunter.
The Seahawks are undeniably chasing defensive improvement after allowing 379.1 total yards per contest in 2021. Seattle ranked in the bottom five of that statistical category. Their inability to consistently generate pressure against opposing quarterbacks is partially why Seattle fielded such a poor defense throughout the course of the regular season.
The Seahawks managed to record just 34 sacks in 17 games. Head coach Pete Carroll is expecting improvement after relieving former defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. of his duties. Carroll replaced Norton by promoting assistant head coach and defensive line position coach Clint Hurtt.
General manager John Schneider now possesses a plethora of immediate and future draft capital as a result of the Wilson trade. Schneider can afford to part with one or two of those selections in exchange for a premier quarterback hunter (no pun intended). The Seahawks possess $45.8 million in available cap space, via Spotrac. That number received a boost following the Wilson deal and Schneider must spend his newfound resources wisely. Seattle has lacked the talents of a top-tier pass rusher over the past few seasons. Acquiring Hunter via a blockbuster trade would undoubtedly set them up for immediate defensive improvement in 2022.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
The AFC West is largely expected to serve as the most competitive and entertaining division in 2022. The Kansas City Chiefs remain favorites to earn the divisional crown due to the overall greatness of Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, but their competitors are loading up to engage in battle.
The Broncos acquired superstar quarterback Wilson from the Seahawks in a move that changed their trajectory and postseason hopes. Los Angeles Chargers general manager Ted Telesco understands the need to impact the opposing pockets of his inner-divisional rivals and went out to acquire Bears veteran pass rusher Mack.
The Raiders already possess an excellent pass rusher in Maxx Crosby, but just like how Joey Bosa’s presence didn’t prevent the Chargers from acquiring Mack, Crosby’s presence shouldn’t prevent the Raiders from inquiring about Hunter. That’s especially true in a division that now houses Mahomes, Wilson, and Justin Herbert as your fiercest rivals.
New general manager Dave Ziegler currently possesses nearly $30 million in cap space and can afford to make a swing-for-the-fences move of his own. In fact, it’s almost necessary given what the Broncos and Chargers have done in recent days. The Raiders qualified for the postseason a year ago and won’t go down without a fight. Pairing Crosby with Hunter would give them one of the most feared pass-rushing duos in all of football.
The Eagles managed to record just 29 sacks last season. Only the Atlanta Falcons were more inept (18 sacks) at getting to the quarterback. Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox are excellent interior rushers, but the aging Cox has witnessed his name surface in trade discussions as of late. Starting defensive end Derek Barnett is an unrestricted free agent and is expected to depart the Eagles after general manager Howie Roseman elected to extend Josh Sweat’s contract as opposed to Barnett’s. Depth players such as Hassan Ridgeway and Ryan Kerrigan are also expected to reach the open market.
Barnett’s impending departure paired with Cox’s uncertain future should make the Eagles players to land the services of an elite pass rusher via free agency or trade. Playing in a division alongside Dak Prescott and the high-flying Dallas Cowboys means the Eagles must be better equipped to get after the quarterback in 2022 than they were a season ago.
Roseman enters the signing period with north of $23 million in financial freedom and three first-round selections. Roseman has never shied away from making a bold move in hopes of improving his Eagles franchise. Acquiring Hunter would signal their aggressive intentions. Hunter would immediately become Philadelphia’s most efficient and productive pass rusher.