The Minnesota Vikings have traded former first-round pick Mike Hughes to the Kansas City Chiefs for a late-round pick swap next year, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Chiefs get Hughes — the No. 30 overall pick out of UCF in 2018 — and a seventh-rounder in 2022, and the Vikings get Kansas City's sixth-rounder in 2022.
There were high hopes for Hughes when the Vikings took him in the first round three years ago, but the cornerback and return man's career has been derailed by injuries. He tore his ACL after six games as a rookie and has dealt with multiple neck issues over the past couple years. In total, Hughes has played in just 24 of a possible 50 games (including playoffs) in three seasons. He has 13 passes defended, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles in his NFL career and has generally been a solid player when available.
In an obvious move, the Vikings declined Hughes' fifth-year option earlier this month.
I'm not entirely sure what the rationale for this move is from the Vikings' perspective. They can't count on Hughes to stay healthy, but he's in the final year of his rookie contract and could've provided some solid depth on the off chance that he did avoid injury. Instead, they're shipping him off to the Chiefs just to save a little bit of cap space ($1.8 million created with $1.3 million in dead money) and move up from the seventh to the sixth round in next year's draft.
Maybe this indicates the Vikings are hopeful about Jeff Gladney's legal situation. The No. 31 pick out of TCU is in an ongoing legal process after being arrested on domestic violence charges last month.
If Gladney ends up being cut or faces a lengthy suspension, the Vikings' cornerback depth chart suddenly feels pretty thin. That's concerning for a team that dealt with countless injuries at the position last year, forcing them to sign players off the street to start games.
The current starters are Cameron Dantzler and Patrick Peterson on the outside, with Mackensie Alexander in the slot. That's a very strong trio if everyone stays healthy and Peterson can bounce back from a couple down years in Arizona. But after them, the entire depth (excluding Gladney) is Harrison Hand, Kris Boyd, and Dylan Mabin. That's pretty scary.
Perhaps the Vikings were preparing to waive Hughes with an injury designation but first wanted to see if they could get anything for him.
This also may suggest that a move could be coming at cornerback. With the $1.8 million going to KC in this trade, the Vikings now have roughly $9.4 million in cap space. Even after using around $2.8 million to sign their draft class, that gives the Vikings $6.6 million in usable cap space with another $7.9 million coming when Kyle Rudolph's contract comes off the books on June 1.
That's a lot of room to go add a corner, not to mention a pass rusher, wide receiver, or some other position.
For the Chiefs, this is a low-cost move to take a shot on Hughes staying healthy and turning his career around in a contract year. He could have a real chance to see playing time on a thin CB depth chart if he's not hurt.
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