Paul Allen rarely criticizes the Minnesota Vikings or, for that matter, takes shots at anyone. The beloved voice of the Vikings, who hosts the popular “9 to Noon” show weekdays on KFAN, describes himself as the head cheerleader of the purple.
So when he went after Danielle Hunter, who is not at OTAs this week, my ears perked up.
“Let me lay it out,” he told Paul Charchian, who co-hosts the Friday Football Feast with him. “Danielle is embarrassing himself by doing this.”
“I believe that him having a problem with his deal and this team is dead accurate,” Allen said, “or he’d be at OTAs.”
Allen and Charchian proceeded to debate the merits of Rick Spielman’s tendency to overpay players like Hunter and Adam Thielen while they are on the rise, with the intent of retaining them on a cap-friendly salary once they are playing at their best.
“It makes you wonder if it’s worth trying to do what is the right thing on an emergent player,” Charchian said after providing context to Hunter’s contract, “and signing him to a deal before he blows up because all that does is kick the problem down the road two years.”
Hunter signed a five-year contract in 2018 that pays him an average of $15 million a season. Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa signed a five-year extension last season that pays him an average of $27 million per year.
Allen and Charchian speculated that the Bosa contract is playing into Hunter’s current contract demands. Conventional wisdom indicates that it is. The added wrinkle here is that Allen says former Vikings are in Hunter’s ear about it.
“Where I feel bad for somebody I genuinely adore — I adore Danielle Hunter, man, he’s the genuine article as a person and as a player — is he has some former Vikings in his ears,” said Allen, “and it’s changing the complexion of where this thing is going. Hopefully, it stops.”
This is novel information that hasn’t really been reported anywhere. Apparently former, and one would assume disgruntled, Vikings are in Danielle Hunter’s ear, and it has changed his perspective on the situation. The natural question is, who? And the natural guess is Stefon Diggs.
We won’t ever know the truth, but it’s easy to believe that the former Vikings star, who was also drafted in 2015 and has found massive success elsewhere, was able to get inside Hunter’s head. Not what fans want to hear.
The conversation on-air continued.
Charchian argued that it’s human nature for a player to want to be paid as much as his contemporaries. Producer Eric Nordquist weighed in, saying that it was fair for Hunter to chase the market for his services.
“He’s in a spot where he says, ‘I was out with a neck, look at your defense without me. Look at the lack of productivity,’” said Nordquist.
“I’m not,” said Allen, cutting Nordquist off. “And I know the guy.”
“Okay, off a neck injury, being given $30 million to play one season,” Allen continued, combining Hunter’s average salary across two seasons rather than using his cash payment. Hunter was paid $10.5 million in 2019 and $11.5 million last season. “It’s embarrassing that this is happening.”
Embarrassing is a pretty dramatic word for Paul Allen. But it’s a word that likely gives a glimpse into how the Vikings’ organization currently feels. Allen rarely editorializes, and when he does, it is often lock-step with what the organization is thinking and doing.
No matter how you feel about Hunter’s demands, Allen’s comments made it clear that there is easily as much to these rumors as Vikings fans feared.
Listen to the entire conversation here. It begins at the 1:34 mark.