Welcome to a late edition of The Cooler. I was over at Brit’s Pub gathering material for a scene story/blog from Mexico/Sweden. It won’t happen again. Let’s get going.
*The big news of the day so far is the Vikings signing defensive end Danielle Hunter to a big contract extension. Hunter was good — maybe a little … what’s the word … quiet last season? — but he’s accomplished plenty and is a key piece to a top-notch defense. It reportedly includes at least $40 million in guaranteed money over five years and can reach a full value of $78 million.
There were pros and cons to all the Big Four extension candidates this offseason, but Hunter generally seemed like a good bet. Eric Kendricks was the first to get his deal, and now Hunter has his. The two remaining candidates are Stefon Diggs and Anthony Barr. Both of those cases are interesting, and it leads to this question: Does the order in which the Vikings are doing these deals, among other things, tell us anything about their priorities?
The conservative, benefit-of-the-doubt answer is no — that if indeed the Vikings plan to sign all four of these players, they had to start somewhere and managed to hammer out deals with Kendricks and Hunter first.
The more interesting answer is at least “maybe.” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has chided Barr in the past, saying the talented former first round pick in 2014 has a tendency to “coast” during games. Barr recently told SI.com in reference to a contract extension, “It’s not my decision; it’s on them, and I would like to get it.”
And in March at the owners meetings, Zimmer famously referred to Diggs as a “celebrity” after his Minneapolis Miracle and added, “We’re not a bunch of celebrity guys.” I don’t profess to know exactly who Zimmer’s “guys” are, but I would wager that Kendricks and Hunter are closer to that definition than Barr and Diggs.
That said, it would be very strange to sign Kirk Cousins to a massive offseason contract and then not sign one of the receivers that gives the Vikings arguably the best duo in the NFL. Barr, too, is still an important part of the Vikings’ defense and there doesn’t appear to be much depth behind him.
The Vikings might not have much wiggle room if they do indeed sign all four guys, but they still can do it. Their track record is to draft, develop and extend. Doing that with all four players still makes the most sense and is still the likeliest outcome. But the names of the two remaining guys did pique my interest.
*ESPN took a look at the free agency priorities for all 30 NBA teams. The first bullet point for the Wolves reads: “Change the bench narrative: Selling a real role in free agency with limited resources.” This is your gentle reminder that Minnesota has been last in the NBA the last two seasons under Tom Thibodeau in terms of bench minutes played per game.
*SI.com has a long feature catching up with Sammy Sosa … in Dubai. Sure, why not. Give it a read.