Tagged in: traded

Minnesota Vikings’ Danielle Hunter to have season ending neck surgery

The Vikings will forge through the remainder of the campaign without their top two pass-rushers, one of whom has not seen the field in 2020.

Hours after Minnesota traded Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens, recouping much of the draft capital they sent to Jacksonville when they acquired the defensive end in August, a league source confirmed to ESPN that Danielle Hunter will undergo season-ending neck surgery to repair a herniated disc.

Hunter’s injury was initially described as a “tweak” by coach Mike Zimmer and was expected to keep him out six to eight weeks, according to a source. The defensive end’s last practice was Aug. 14, the Vikings’ first day of practice during training camp.

Hunter, who had 54.5 sacks through five seasons and back-to-back Pro Bowl honors, agreed to an extension in 2018 and is set to be under contract for the next three seasons. In spite of his production, becoming the fastest player ever to reach 50.0 sacks, Hunter is the 18th-highest-paid defensive end with an average salary of $14.4 million per year.

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It was widely expected that the Vikings would have to restructure Hunter’s contract in the upcoming offseason to better reflect his value. But with the salary cap expected to drop considerably in 2021, Minnesota will soon need to resolve whether they can make Hunter the league’s highest-paid defensive end with a deal north of the $27 million per year paid to Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa, or potentially entertain offers for a trade.

The Vikings have not publicly acknowledged Hunter’s season-ending surgery. Weeks ago, the defensive end traveled to New York to get a second opinion on his neck injury.  Zimmer had said that the visit did not reveal any further clarity about his condition.

“[He’s] still kind of mulling his options, I think,” Zimmer said on Oct. 14.

Earlier Thursday, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman discussed the team’s decision to trade Ngakoue to the Ravens and whether he thought back in August that Minnesota would be able to field both pass-rushers this season, in spite of Hunter’s injury.

“I would say it was more — because we didn’t know where Danielle was at the time — what you envision sometimes unfortunately doesn’t always come true,” Spielman said.

“To have a Yannick and Danielle coming off the edges, to have an Anthony Barr and the way Zim has schematically used him to create pressure on the quarterback so he’s one-on-one with running backs, that’s how we envisioned it. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out like that. You try to readjust with some of the top playmakers you don’t have, especially on the defensive side. That’s what the coaches are doing right now.”

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Clevinger will make Padres debut at Angels

Mike Clevinger will be on the mound Thursday afternoon in Anaheim, Calif., making his debut for the San Diego Padres versus the team that originally drafted him, the Los Angeles Angels.

Clevinger, who was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Padres in a deadline deal on Monday, will make his second start since he was placed on the restricted list by the Indians for breaking COVID-19 protocols in early August. He missed three weeks, but returned with a solid game Aug. 26, giving up two runs on eight hits and one walk over six innings in a triumph over the Minnesota Twins.

Clevinger, who is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in four starts this campaign, is excited about his chance for a fresh start with a new team.

“(The Padres) are the most exciting team in baseball by far right now,” he said. “It’s definitely the place to be. I’m stoked that they wanted me here. It’s a definitely a destination guys want to be.”

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He could not have picked a better opponent than the Angels to impress his new teammates.

In six career starts against them, he is 4-0 with a 2.94 ERA. He’s even better pitching in Anaheim — 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA in two starts (one earned run in 11 1/3 innings).

The Angels drafted Clevinger out of Seminole Community College in Sanford, Fla., in 2011, and he was having a mediocre season playing Class-A ball in 2014 when he was traded to the Indians for middle reliever Vinnie Pestano, who played his last major league game in 2015.

Clevinger, who was 23 at the time, was 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 18 combined starts playing for the Burlington (Iowa) Bees and Inland Empire (Calif.) 66ers, while Pestano was a major league reliever the Angels felt they needed to fortify their bullpen for a playoff push.

Now, Clevinger joins a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in 14 years.

“I know it’s been since 2006, but there’s definitely something brewing here, and it’s going to be special for the coming years, it’s not just this year,” he said.

“I couldn’t be any more excited. This is exactly where I wanted to be. From a distance, this was one of the best organizations around.”

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