The Vikings opened mandatory minicamp Tuesday with Danielle Hunter in attendance, along with a newly acquired defensive tackle, a boatload of new cornerbacks and presumably steak and lobster on Mike Zimmer's daily dinner plate.
The head coach is living in hog heaven this summer.
The gang is back together again, plus some new veterans to fill important roles in Zim's defense, a dramatic transformation that calls to mind a Biblical saying: Ask and you shall receive.
Anyone shocked by a pre-training camp resolution to Hunter's contract situation has ignored the organization's mission since the dreadful 2020 season was put to rest.
Zimmer proved incapable of suppressing his frustration over everything that went wrong. He called his defense the worst he's ever coached and admitted to being "down in the dumps" when examining the returning depth chart and salary cap space.
Zimmer's reputation is that of a shrewd defensive strategist and problem solver. The ineptitude his unit put on display throughout the pandemic season undoubtedly brought a healthy dose of embarrassment to the prideful old coach.
He has no intention of going through that nonsense again. Especially with what looks like a win-or-else season awaiting his and General Manager Rick Spielman's regime.
The surest way to eliminate questions or doubts about their job security is to fix a broken defense.
One can imagine Zimmer standing at Spielman's door at 6 a.m. every day, holding a wish list for his boss:
• Get Hunter's contract worked out.
• Sign a veteran cornerback.
• Add another defensive lineman to upgrade the pass rush.
• Sign a veteran cornerback.
• And while you're at it, sign another veteran cornerback.
The Vikings checked all those boxes. They signed 11 free agents on defense this offseason — 12 if you count tackle Michael Pierce, who signed last offseason but opted out of 2020 because of COVID-19.
Those aren't just roster tweaks. That's a stick of dynamite. The Vikings should have players wear name tags, sit in a circle in the locker room and take turns sharing something interesting about themselves to break the ice.
Hunter was the linchpin to the offseason reboot. There was zero chance the organization would allow things to disintegrate into a lengthy contract stalemate with one of its most important and impactful players.
Their pass rush was nonexistent last season, and a defense without a credible pass rush functions on one leg. Hunter, when healthy, has proved to be one of the league's premier pass rushers.
Though the Vikings held most of the leverage, this was not the time to play hardball. Not with the defense desperate for a rebound, and Zimmer feeling urgency to fix things and return to the playoffs.
Hunter is widely respected and admired inside the organization. The last thing anyone wanted was for this situation to turn contentious and possibly become Stefon Diggs 2.0.
Quite predictably, the team's salary cap wizard, Rob Brzezinski, performed his magic again, and the sides settled on an agreement that looks like a win-win.
Hunter reportedly got part of his salary converted to a signing bonus, and the Vikings gave themselves a season to evaluate their star defensive end coming off a neck injury before having to make a long-term commitment.
This was a smart, timely resolution. No distractions, no training camp drama.
The defense that was on the field Tuesday looked nothing like the unit that huffed and puffed to the finish last season. New faces, familiar faces back in the mix, far more depth and a lot more talent and pedigree.
Zimmer must be relieved. His defense looks legit again, on paper at least. That unit still must prove itself in games, but there is more to work with now.
Zimmer hated having to acknowledge that he had a bad defense. That wore on him. So he used his clout in personnel decisions to fix it.
Getting Hunter's contract squared away was a main priority, even though that never seemed like an unconquerable hurdle. Certainly not when one considers all that is at stake for the head coach and GM.