By midday Thursday the Vikes are without either for the balance of the 2020 campaign.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported that Hunter is undergoing surgery to clean up a herniated disc in his neck, which will knock him out for the rest of the season, per sources informed of the situation.
Hunter didn't play a snap this season while dealing with the issue back in August. Initially, the Vikings hoped the edge rusher could rehab and return this season. Alas, he'll have neck surgery, wiping out that possibility.
News of Hunter's operation came shortly after the Vikings traded Ngakoue to Baltimore.
The loss of the pass rushers further depletes an already struggling Minnesota defense. We knew entering the season, the Vikings likely would have trouble in the secondary. The defensive line issues, however, have been just as big a problem for Mike Zimmer. With all day to throw, quarterbacks have picked apart the Vikes' back end.
Hunter joins star linebacker Anthony Barr on the season-ending IR list.
Hunter was coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons as one of the most athletic edge rushers in the NFL, earning 14.5 sacks each of the past two seasons.
Despite signing a new contract that keeps Hunter tied to Minnesota through the 2023 season, Rapoport added that the 25-year-old wants to re-do his deal coming off surgery or could ask to be traded next year. The five-year extension done in 2018 is already very team-friendly. Despite his talent and production, Hunter's contract ranks 18th among edge rushers.
With the Vikings already up against the salary cap, which could potentially plummet next season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's uncertain Minnesota would be able to meet the desires of a player who won't play a single snap in 2020.