Vikings Load Up Cap Space, Trade Former 1st-Round Pick to Chiefs

Mike Hughes

Getty Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday.

The Minnesota Vikings have seen enough from former first-round pick Mike Hughes.

Hughes, the No. 30 overall pick in 2018, missed 36 of 50 games in his three-year tenure with the Vikings due to injury. And now he’ll be missing from Minnesota’s roster.

The Vikings traded Hughes and a seventh-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a sixth-round pick on Thursday. The trade was a virtual giveaway, with Minnesota’s biggest gain coming from clearing $1.8 million in cap space by ridding itself from Hughes’ contract.

After signing its rookies, Minnesota will have $13.78 million in cap space after Kyle Rudolph’s $7.6 million post-June 1 cap savings kick in, per OverTheCap.

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Writing Was on the Wall for Hughes

The 2020 season was Hughes’ final chance to prove his worth with his fifth-year option pending this offseason.

As the elder statesmen of a cornerbacks room that parted ways with all three of its starting cornerbacks in Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, Hughes was poised to take over as the No. 1 cornerback in Minnesota. He suffered a season-ending neck injury last season and was shut down by the bye week.

The third time Hughes has been placed on the list in his time with the Vikings, Minnesota opted not to exercise the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. There was speculation whether he would compete for a job in training camp; however, Minnesota found a buyer in the Chiefs and was ready to move on.

Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson reported he had been told Hughes is “fully healthy” — a report that Kansas City likely inquired on before exchanging a sixth-round pick for Hughes.

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Still Room for Competition at Cornerback

The Vikings cornerbacks room was ravaged by injury last season. It became a weekly occurrence where the team would need to sign somebody off the street to have a full roster. Adam Thielen had even taken reps at the position and was prepared to move to defense midgame against the Green Bay Packers in Week 8.

Mike Zimmer made his intentions of returning the defense to its former glory this offseason. Minnesota signed veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson and brought back Alexander — both on one-year contracts.

Peterson and Alexander are poised to start alongside 2020 third-round pick Cameron Dantzler, who was the highest-grade rookie cornerback by Pro Football Focus a season ago.

First-round pick Jeff Gladney is currently facing alleged domestic assault charges, leaving his status for the 2021 season in the air. Meanwhile, 2020 fifth-round pick Harrison Hand will likely take on more responsibility with Hughes out of the picture.


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