Mike Hughes

DB Notes: Hughes, Surtain, Bears, Cowboys

The Vikings punted on Mike Hughes‘ contract year, sending the former first-round cornerback to the Chiefs in a pick-swap trade involving late-round selections. They felt comfortable doing so because of their additions at the position this offseason.

Mike is a terrific kid; he’s been injured an awful lot,” Mike Zimmer said, via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin (Twitter links). “With the way that everything is now, we were fortunate to get a couple corners last year in the draft, we signed Patrick Peterson in free agency, so I think that gave us the opportunity to make the trade.”

Minnesota signed Peterson to a one-year, $10MM deal and reunited with former second-round pick Mackensie Alexander on a one-year pact. The Vikings drafted two corners high last year — first-rounder Jeff Gladney and third-rounder Cameron Dantzler — but a Gladney arrest earlier this year could affect his NFL future. Taken 30th overall in 2018, Hughes has only played 24 regular-season games during his career. The Chiefs have now taken fliers on two recent first-round corners — Hughes and DeAndre Baker — at low-cost rates.

Here is the latest news surrounding NFL secondaries:

  • Despite Justin Fields remaining on the board, the Broncos selected Patrick Surtain II at No. 9 overall. After seeing the last of their Super Bowl-winning No Fly Zone cogs depart in 2020 (Chris Harris) and Bryce Callahan encounter another injury, the Broncos moved aggressively at corner this offseason. Surtain, Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller now join Callahan. With the three veterans perhaps in line to be Denver’s top corners in Week 1, Surtain may be eased in gradually. However, he is viewed as an impact prospect who should be expected to help in 2021. Vic Fangio said the Broncos will train the 6-foot-2 cover man on the outside and in the slot, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post.
  • Formerly possessing a high-end cornerback contingent, the Bears have seen two of those cogs — Callahan and Fuller — rejoin Fangio in Colorado. The Bears cut Fuller this year after releasing slot man Buster Skrine. They signed Desmond Trufant, but the former Falcons Pro Bowler has missed 17 games over the past two years. Chicago has Jaylon Johnson locked in as a starter but did not draft a corner until Round 6 this year (Thomas Graham Jr.). Nevertheless, new Bears DC Sean Desai does not believe the team needs outside help here. “We’ve got enough depth where we’ll be able to solve that problem,” Desai said, via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. Desai mentioned 2020 fifth-rounder Kindle Vildor, who played 135 defensive snaps last season, as a player who could be elevated into regular duty — either outside or in the slot. The Bears have, however, checked in on Steven Nelson, joining several other teams in doing so.
  • Although the Cowboys signed former first-round safety Keanu Neal, they are planning a hybrid role for the standout tackler. At safety, the team may well be set to turn to the other ex-Falcon cover man they signed this offseason. Damontae Kazee and Donovan Wilson look like the favorites to start at safety, per Jon Machota of The Athletic (subscription required). A 2019 sixth-round pick, Wilson started 10 Cowboys games last season. Kazee replaced Neal as a full-time starter in 2018 and ’19, when Neal suffered early-season injuries. But the former fifth-round pick is coming off an Achilles tear himself, which could impact his path to the starting lineup.

Vikings Trade Mike Hughes To Chiefs

It’s been a busy afternoon with lots of draft pick signings, and now we’ve got a trade! Minnesota is sending cornerback Mike Hughes to the Chiefs, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Kansas City is sending their sixth-round pick in 2022 and getting back Hughes and a 2022 seventh-rounder, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. In essence, the Chiefs are getting Hughes for practically nothing to take on the final year of his rookie deal. The 30th overall pick of the 2018 draft, Hughes just recently had his fifth-year option declined by the Vikings. To say Kansas City GM Brett Veach has been aggressive this offseason would be a big understatement.

His latest acquisition is the young cornerback from UCF who has had a really tough time with injuries in his brief career. First, Hughes tore an ACL a little over a month into his rookie season. Then he missed a couple of games with a neck injury in 2019, before a neck issue limited him to only four games this past year.

Through three pro campaigns he’s appeared in only 24 games, making seven starts. In those games he’s recorded 80 tackles, three forced fumbles, 13 passes defended, and two interceptions. The Vikings added Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander this offseason, leaving Hughes with an uncertain role in their secondary.

The Chiefs have yet to re-sign Bashaud Breeland this offseason, so the could use some cornerback depth behind L’Jarius Sneed and Charvarius Ward. Hughes only turned 24 in February, so he’s still got some theoretical upside.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Decline Mike Hughes’ Option

Fifth-year option decisions continue to trickle in, and we’ve got another decline to pass along. The Vikings have elected not to pick up the option on cornerback Mike Hughes‘ contract, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

This one isn’t surprising and had more or less been the expectation, since Hughes would’ve been due a guaranteed $12.643MM in 2022 under it. Given his injury history, there’s no way the Vikings were going to pay that. The 30th overall pick of the 2018 draft tore an ACL a little over a month into his rookie season.

Then he missed a couple of games in 2019 with a neck injury. In 2020 more neck issues limited him to only four games before landing on injured reserve for the rest of the season. Through three pro campaigns he’s appeared in only 24 games, making seven starts.

In those games he’s recorded 80 tackles, three forced fumbles, 13 passes defended, and two interceptions. Hughes’ role was going to be uncertain this year anyway after the team added corners Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander in free agency. The UCF product will now hit free agency after this season. He’ll turn 25 next February.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

Vikings Place CB Mike Hughes On IR

The Vikings will enter their Aaron Rodgers rematch decimated at cornerback. They placed Mike Hughes on IR Friday, and ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin reports the neck injury Hughes sustained in Week 6 has the rest of his season in doubt.

Neck trouble would be an automatic concern regardless of circumstances, but Hughes has a history with neck issues. He landed on IR before Minnesota’s playoff slate last season, and a belated report indicated the former first-round pick suffered broken vertebra in his neck. Hughes recovered in time for this season, but Friday’s report is certainly troubling for his NFL future.

Hughes has not been able to stay healthy as a pro. An ACL tear ended his 2018 rookie season after six games. He played 14 last season but has missed time this year. With 2018 first-round picks being the first to have fully guaranteed fifth-year options, it now appears a certainty the Vikings will pass on Hughes’ come May.

The Vikings did, however, make Hughes a key piece of their cornerback puzzle this offseason. They let Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander defect to the Bengals, doing so after cutting former No. 1 corner Xavier Rhodes. Minnesota drafted corners Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler in Rounds 1 and 3, respectively, this year.

Dantzler, however, resides on the Vikings’ reserve/COVID-19 list. He will miss Sunday’s Packers tilt, leaving Gladney as the only healthy corner from the Vikes’ regular rotation. Holton Hill is also out with a foot injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Promote S George Iloka

George Iloka is on track to see game action for the first time since the 2018 season finale. The Vikings promoted the veteran safety from their practice squad.

Minnesota added Iloka late this summer, doing so after hosting him twice. Iloka brings extensive experience for a practice squad player, joining a few players in that regard in this historically unusual season, and will resume his career with the team for which he last played. Iloka played 16 games for the 2018 Vikings but was out of football last season.

The Vikings are off to a brutal start, having been unable to compete with the Packers and Colts. Their defense ranks 20th in DVOA. Minnesota lost several starters from recent years — Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen — and is also down cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Cameron Dantzler for its Week 3 game against Tennessee. Danielle Hunter also remains on IR, with Anthony Barr out for the season. Iloka will return to a defense featuring few familiar faces.

The team, however, still employs top-tier safety tandem Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris. Iloka adds 99 games’ (and 79 starts’) worth of experience to the Vikings’ safety group. He has played under Mike Zimmer in four his seven seasons, doing so with the Bengals and Vikings.

To help out at corner, the Vikings are also promoting Mark Fields.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings CB Mike Hughes Suffered Broken Vertebra In Neck

Mike Hughes‘ 2020 season ended with him being placed on the injured reserve with a neck injury. We now have more details, as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune reports that the Vikings cornerback suffered a broken vertebra in his neck.

Fortunately, it sounds like the 23-year-old will return to full health, as head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters that Hughes is “going to be fine.” Further, Zimmer hinted that the 2018 first-rounder (along with Holton Hill and Kris Boyd) could lead the team’s cornerbacks corps in 2020.

“Hughes and Hill and Boyd, they have the ability to do it,” Zimmer said. “Like, during the season I gave them an assignment that I wanted them to do every single day and they did it. That tells me that they want to do it. I think that’s half the battle.”

Minnesota may have to rely on these youngsters next season. As Goessling notes, cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander (along with safety Anthony Harris) are set to hit free agency. Further, cornerback Xavier Rhodes could find himself as a cap casualty.

Hughes was limited to only six games as a rookie thanks to a torn ACL, but he returned to appear in 14 games (three starts) in 2019. During his sophomore campaign, the defensive back compiled 45 tackles, nine passes defended, one interception, and two forced fumbles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Place Mike Hughes On IR

The Vikings will head into the playoffs without the services of Mike Hughes. On Friday, the Vikes placed the cornerback on injured reserve with a neck injury.

Hughes, a 2018 first-round pick, figured to see an increased role against the Saints in the Wild Card round as Mackensie Alexander nurses a knee injury. Now, the Vikings are without both corners for the big game on Sunday.

Hughes played in 14 games (three starts) in 2019, logging one interception, two forced fumbles, and 43 total tackles. The Vikings already had their work cut out for them with Michael Thomas & Co., but things are looking extra bleak for them at this moment.

To fill in at cornerback, the Vikings re-signed old friend Marcus Sherels. Sherels, a Minnesota native, spent nine straight seasons with the Vikings. From 2011-18, Sherels returned 231 punts for 2,447 yards (10.6 average) and five touchdowns, setting franchise records in all three categories.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 12/23/19

Passing along some notable names from today’s workout circuit:

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Seattle Seahawks