Report: Bears will go after standout DE Danielle Hunter this offseason
Brad Rempel - USA Today Sports

Report: Bears will go after standout DE Danielle Hunter this offseason

by - Correspondent -

Per ESPN’s David Kaplan, the Chicago Bears will try to acquire defensive end Danielle Hunter in the offseason. He went on to say that the Bears attempted to acquire Hunter via trade before the 2023 season, as well as before the trade deadline.

There was a large amount of speculation Chicago would attempt to acquire Hunter during this offseason. The four-time Pro Bowler had another dominant season this year with 16.5 sacks, a career high, as well as a league-leading 23 tackles for loss. Surely, his defensive presence is something the Bears could benefit from as they only had 30 sacks this season, although six of those came from edge Montez Sweat, who became the first player in NFL history to record at least six sacks for two different teams in the same season.

The 2023 season marked Hunter’s fifth season with at least 10 sacks and his second season with multiple forced fumbles. He had a total of 83 tackles with 22 quarterback hits. Putting him with Sweat would help to return Chicago to their former glory as the Monsters of the Midway. But, can Chicago afford it?

Prior to cutting safety Eddie Jackson and guard Cody Whitehair, the answer was most likely “no.” However, these cuts gave Chicago significant cap space as they now have over $70 million in cap room. Therefore, it now appears the Bears have put themselves in a position to be able to afford to sign Danielle Hunter while also making some other offseason moves and signing their draft picks.

According to Spotrac, given Hunter’s age at 29 and the contracts of players with similar statistical performances, he should be making at least $20 million per year. Further, other players, such as Shaquil Barrett and TJ Watt, have received contracts that are four years in length. Therefore, Hunter’s agent would most likely try to negotiate a four-year contract for him.

However, Barrett’s and Watt’s contracts are a few years old now. A more current example is defensive end Cameron Jordan’s contract extension that he received prior to the 2023 season. While Jordan is five years older than Hunter, the significant thing about his extension is that it is guaranteed. Therefore, this contract could impact the guaranteed salary that Hunter would want, as receiving fully guaranteed or mostly guaranteed contracts is starting to become a bit more common, with approximately 100 players currently set to go into next season on a fully guaranteed contract.

This is not a trend Chicago has followed much. The only two players on their roster with a fully guaranteed contract are right tackle Darnell Wright and quarterback Justin Fields, who is a trade candidate. Besides them, the next player with the most of his contract money guaranteed at signing is wide receiver DJ Moore with 67.24 percent of his contract money guaranteed. Sweat had less than half of his contract money guaranteed at signing.

All of this is to say while Hunter may try to negotiate a fully guaranteed or close to fully guaranteed contract, this is most likely not something that Chicago is going to do. If so, it would surely break the norm in how they typically negotiate contracts. But, for a player like Hunter who has a lot to offer for Chicago, they may be willing to break their norm to acquire him.

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