The Jacksonville Jaguars have reportedly had interest in Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter since the offseason. However, they have stayed put and relied on their in-house options to create pressure up front. The good news is that they have more than enough time to get a deal done before this year's October 31st deadline.
The Jags have laid eyes on Hunter for several months, according to Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. This is a bit of a surprising news because Hunter previously started following Jacksonville on Instagram but there were no reports their interest was legitimate.
Throughout the offseason, the Jaguars looked for ways to improve their pass rush but ultimately chose to go with the group they had. At one point, they seemed to be interested in bringing in Yannick Ngakoue but opted not to pursue him. They also met with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney before he inked a deal with the Baltimore Ravens.
Maybe Ngakoue and Clowney exceeded the team's expected budget or perhaps neither Ngakoue nor Clowney were a fit. Regardless of the reason, the pass rush remains a need, even with the return of defensive end Dawaune Smoot.
The Denver Broncos just released defensive end Frank Clark but Hunter would be a better acquisition even when you take into account that Jacksonville would have to give up compensation if they traded for him. Clark has only logged two total tackles this season and has been dealing with a hip injury. Meanwhile, Hunter has registered six sacks and ranks among the best pass rushers in the league. Signing the former could be cheaper but the latter would have a bigger impact.
Currently, outside linebacker Josh Allen is the only Jaguars who's recorded more than two sacks (six) in 2023. Sophomore Travon Walker has two and former first-round pick K'Lavon Chaisson has one. The pass rush has disappeared at times this season, bringing in Hunter would ensure that Jacksonville can consistently bring the heat.
What would the Jaguars need to give up to acquire Danielle Hunter?
The downside of acquiring Hunter, as noted before, is that the Jaguars would have to part ways with a draft pick, possibly a couple, to secure his services. Bill Barnwell of ESPN recently matched a handful of players with their potential destinations. He has Hunter and a fifth-round pick going to the Detroit Lions in exchange for a second-round pick, a third-round pick, and defensive end James Houston.
All things considered, that's a bit of a high price but one the Jaguars could afford. The issue is that they already gave the Atlanta Falcons a 2023 fifth-round pick when they traded for wide receiver Calvin Ridley last year. Part of the deal included another pick next year that will be at least a fourth-round pick but could be as high as a second-rounder if Ridley gets a contract extension.
For the sake of argument, let's say the Jags do plan to extend Ridley next year, they could then offer the Vikes third-round picks in 2024 and 2025. Conversely, if they plan on moving on from Ridley, they could then offer their second and a fourth (they have an extra one after trading with the New Orleans Saints). Either way, general manager Trent Baalke has enough ammo (and the cap space) to pull off a trade.
Do the Jacksonville Jaguars need to trade for Danielle Hunter? No, they have the talent to make a playoff push. However, he would give their pass rush a massive boost and turn their defense into one of the best in the AFC. For a couple of draft picks, that would be a sound investment.