Former Vikings CB Joins 4th Team

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings used the 1st Round of the 2018 NFL Draft to improve at cornerback, a common theme of the Mike Zimmer + Rick Spielman era.

Spielman drafted Mike Hughes from Central Florida, a man on deck to take over once the Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes eras ended. Three years later, on May 13, 2021, the Mike Hughes era for the Vikings ended as Spielman traded the cornerback and a 7th-Round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 6th-Round draft pick in 2022.

The Vikings used that pick to draft wide receiver Jalen Nailor 11 months ago, and here we are.

Former Vikings CB Joins 4th Team

Well, on Monday, the beginning of the NFL’s second wave of free agency, Hughes joined his fourth NFL franchise — the Atlanta Falcons.

NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport tweeted, “Mike Hughes is now expected to sign with the Falcons, sources say. Another defensive addition for ATL.”

CB Joins 4th
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Since leaving the Vikings, Hughes has a thick resume, spending time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, and now Atlanta Falcons — if he makes the 53-man roster in August. Hughes actually played quite well in 2021 with the Chiefs, especially in the regular season, but encountered a regrettable playoff gaffe that soured his reputation in Kansas City.

Accordingly, Hughes ventured to the Vikings rival, the Lions, a few months later and remained with Dan Campbell’s upstart program for one season. But amid Detroit’s ferocious and highly-touted offseason overhaul in the last week, Hughes wasn’t a priority to retain.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Hughes should be tentatively scheduled for nickel cornerback duty in Atlanta, becoming a member of a heavily-populated CB room, including A.J. Terrell, Casey Hayward, Dee Alford, Darren Hall, Cornell Armstrong, Dylan Mabin, Matt Rankings, John Reid, and Javelin Guidry.

Here’s Hughes’ Pro Football Focus resume to date:

  • 2018 = 65.3
  • 2019 = 58.7
  • 2020 = 54.4
  • 2021 = 79.6
  • 2022 = 59.9

And his passer-rating-against since turning pro:

  • 2018 = 104.0
  • 2019 = 91.9
  • 2020 = 126.3
  • 2021 = 100.7
  • 2022 = 126.2

Those passer-rating-against numbers are, of course, horrid, but Hughes will continue to get chances with teams because of his 1st-Round draft stock.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports.

The Falcons ranked 29th in pass defense DVOA in 2022 and 30th in overall defense DVOA. They need all the help they can get, and Hughes is evidently a theoretical solution to an awful secondary.

Hughes generated oodles of excitement among Vikings fans in his first career game when he ripped off an interception from then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garappolo and scampered for a pick-six. And that was Hughes’ big Vikings moment. He wound up missing 50% of all Vikings games while with the club for three seasons.

Hughes turned 26 in February.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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