The Minnesota Vikings aren’t planning on pulling the rug from underneath the celebrated pairing of multiple-time Pro Bowl pass rushers, Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter—at least not yet, anyways.
In a roundup discussion of 2022 NFL free agency, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler touched on the potentially explosive pairing in Minnesota. According to Fowler, the expectation right now is for “Smith and Hunter to play together.”
There have been concerns that the Vikings might still consider moving Hunter for assets and utilizing Smith as another productive pass-rusher capable of offsetting the loss of a key playmaker on defense. But then again, a move like that doesn’t really make sense considering the team is in a win-now mode.
They’ve already extended quarterback Kirk Cousins for another year, and the front office has reworked major contracts, including Hunter, Harrison Smith and Adam Thielen. The team could still sign Patrick Peterson in free agency, but they’ll also be looking towards the draft in an effort to beef up the defensive secondary.
Even during Wednesday’s press conference, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah mentioned the team was seeking a long-term deal with their star defensive end.
A dominant pass rush is clearly needed to make Ed Donatell’s 3-4 defense work effectively. In many ways, the heat provided from both Hunter and Smith could limit some of the pressure being put on the defensive backs in Minnesota.
Move over, Dean Portman and Fulton Reed. The new Bash Brothers have arrived.
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