Each year, teams are faced with a tough decision on whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option on a player’s rookie contract. For 2021, that means the Minnesota Vikings had to decide whether or not to exercise that deal on cornerback Mike Hughes.
Hughes has been a somewhat polarizing player. When on the field, he has shown flashes of brilliance, including an energizing 28-yard pick-six in his NFL debut against the San Francisco 49ers and a big forced fumble in 2019 against the Kansas City Chiefs that was recovered by Holton Hill.
The biggest problem with Hughes is his ability to stay healthy. Out of a possible 48 games in his first three seasons, the No. 30 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft was only able to take the field for 24 games, missing half of them due to injury.
A variety of injuries has hit him hard since joining the purple and gold. His rookie season saw him exit due to a torn ACL. The next season, Hughes played fourteen games before being placed on injured reserve with a neck issue. In 2020, he only lasted four games before exiting with another neck ailment.
2021 is now make or break for Mike Hughes with the Minnesota Vikings
With NFL insider Ian Rapoport reporting on Twitter that the Vikings have declined the fifth-year option on Mike Hughes, it will be up to him to prove that he has enough value to be a part of the team’s plans moving forward.
This year, Mike Hughes is part of a deep group of cornerbacks on the Minnesota Vikings roster. With reports he is fully healthy, he can take on a smaller role in the team’s defense thanks to the signings of Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander as well as the emergence of Cameron Dantzler. Not having to rely on a heavy dose of Hughes could help to increase his chances of lasting an entire season.
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If he can make it through a full 17-game season and continue to flash great plays at times, Mike Hughes could earn himself an extension with the Minnesota Vikings. However, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the cornerback’s fifth-year option was declined.