For weeks, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer called defensive end Danielle Hunter‘s unspecific injury a “small tweak.” Before the Vikings ever had to specify the body part that is tweaked via the initial injury report of the season, the Vikings placed Hunter on injured reserve.
Now, Zimmer doesn’t want to talk about Hunter’s situation at all.
“I’m not going to talk about injuries,” Zimmer told reporters on Friday when asked about his past claim that Hunter had a “small tweak.”
Zimmer was then and remains now within his rights to say nothing. However, the broader circumstances and the lack of information justify speculation as to whether Hunter truly has a debilitating injury or whether it really is a “small tweak” through which he’s unwilling to play until his $14.4 million becomes better in line with the $27 million per year that the Chargers are now paying to defensive end Joey Bosa.
With no one saying anything, it’s fair to wonder whether Hunter isn’t happy with his contract, and in turn whether he’s declining to play until he gets a new deal. It’s also fair to wonder whether the Vikings took the stare down to the next level by putting Hunter on IR, wiping out $31,250 per week in per-game roster bonuses and making it harder for him to hit a $500,000 escalator based on 13 sacks and another $500,000 escalator based on two more sacks.
The 2020 COVID-19 roster flexibility rules allow for an unlimited number of players to be placed on injured reserve, with eligibility to return in only three weeks. It will be very interesting to see whether Hunter comes back when he’s eligible to do so.