Last week, the news emerged that our Vikings decided to trade Mike Hughes and a seventh to the Kansas City Chiefs for a mere sixth-round pick. Upon first glance, the Mike Hughes trade makes essentially no sense for our Vikings, so we need to dig a little deeper to untangle what may be going on.
We wrote about Hughes not too long ago to address the news that Minnesota declined his fifth-year option. Here is what we had to say at the end: “To be clear, Hughes’ career isn’t over, and it’s entirely possible that he finally puts everything together and starts to become a really good player. We also should clarify that declining his fifth-year option doesn’t mean his career with the Vikings is necessarily over. If he plays well and stays healthy, Minnesota may end up being very interested in bringing him back. There’s a reason why he was chosen 30th overall, and he is still only 24. Fans shouldn’t hold their breath, but the hope here is that Hughes can finally stay healthy and start being a meaningful contributor on game day.”
A little more than a week after writing these words, my (albeit guarded) optimism has proven to be unfounded.
The fact that KC could get Hughes for a mere sixth is pretty surprising, even with his injury history. Let’s not forget that Kansas City is one of the top teams in the NFL, so their pick will come toward the end of the round. That means that Minnesota is unloading Hughes to move up maybe ten or twenty spots. I suppose there is potential for greater value since Minnesota will apparently be getting the better of KC’s two sixths, but it’s still not much in return for a former first-round pick who is still only 24.
Indeed, there must be more to the story, and the first place to look is at Minnesota’s salary cap. Take a look at the tweet below:
The Mike Hughes trade frees up $1.83 million in cap space (with $1.3 million in dead money). That gives the #Vikings roughly $6.6 million in cap space AFTER they sign their rookie class, plus another $7.9 million coming after June 1.
They have a lot of money to work with.
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) May 13, 2021
$6.6 million is a ton of money at this point in the offseason, especially given the obstacles presented by the Covid Cap. They’ll be adding on another $7.9 million, so Minnesota is well-positioned to make another move or two. Richard Sherman seems unlikely, but PFF indicates that Brian Poole is still available. Poole is a slot corner who has finished in the top-12 of their rankings over the past two seasons. Nickell Robey-Coleman is another name to remember at corner, and there are still a handful of intriguing veteran offensive and defensive linemen.
We might also understand the Mike Hughes trade as a sign that Zim is confident in the corner depth. Earlier today, I was listening to a video released by Purple FTW. They suggested that the Hughes trade may indicate that Minnesota will not only retain Jeff Gladney, but that there is perhaps a legal resolution on the horizon.
#Vikings CB depth:
• Patrick Peterson
• Cameron Dantzler
• Mackensie Alexander
• Jeff Gladney (perhaps)
• Kris Boyd
• Harrison Hand
• Dylan Mabin
— Sean Borman (@SeanBormanNFL) May 13, 2021
A Peterson-Dantzler-Alexander top three is rock-solid. I’ve long been a fan of Kris Boyd, and Harrison Hand had some positive moments during his rookie year. Fans shouldn’t be 100% confident in this corner group, but it’s far, far better than last season’s.
Overall, it’s surprising to see Minnesota get so little in return for Hughes, but it’s likely they’ve got other plans. The added money will likely be put to good use. I, for one, would not be at all disappointed if we added another lineman, nor would I be upset about bringing in another veteran corner to compete. Heck, Slick Rick may even pull off a big trade. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
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