Danielle Hunter, the young star defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings, recently signed a five-year contract extension for $72 million. That is quite a paycheck, but it's not as much money as many thought the 23-year-old could get. Because of that contract, the bar has been set lower than desired for other defensive ends looking to make big bucks. Here are four guys who won't be happy with Hunter's deal setting the going rate at a level below what was expected.
4. Carlos Dunlap
29-year-old Carlos Dunlap is entering his ninth season in the league, all with the Bengals, and the last year of his five-year, $39.4 million contract. Dunlap is surely looking for one last star-level payout before winding down his career, and though he has continued to play well for Cincinnati, the team may worry that his very best days are behind him. Hunter's deal just gives them even more reason to low-ball their longtime pass-rusher.
3. Dante Fowler Jr
Like Hunter, Dante Fowler Jr is only 23, and already he is looking dominant. Drafted with the third pick back in 2015, Fowler has lived up to the hype and proven himself worthy of a big extension. He is in the final year now of his four-year, $23.5 million deal, but any hopes that he had of an enormous payout have been slightly diminished based on Hunter's agreement. After all, Fowler has shown that he's an injury risk -- remember, he missed his entire rookie season -- and he has not performed all the way up to Hunter's standard.
2. Khalil Mack
Khalil Mack, the Raiders' linebacker/defensive end hybrid, has been the very definition of total domination. He has racked up 36.5 sacks in the last three seasons, emerging as one of the top defensive players in the entire game. His bargain four-year, $18.7 million contract expires after this season, and Mack is sure to get a fat contract that noticeably surpasses Hunter's. There is no doubt, however, that Hunter's precedent lowers Mack's upper limit. The Raiders organization won't be complaining about that.
1. Aaron Donald
Like Mack, Aaron Donald is not really a pure defensive end, but his dominance at pass rushing from any position on the line makes him seem like one. The big lineman has made a name for himself as quite possibly the single best defensive player in the NFL, recording 39 sacks in his first four seasons and plugging the middle for a Rams defense ready to leap into the stratosphere. Last year's Defensive Player of the Year, Donald is now in the last year of an absurdly cheap four-year, $10.1 million contract. He is sure to get an enormous raise. But what should have been anticipated to be a record-setting deal might not end up breaking the bank like it might have otherwise.