Why the Vikings trading Mike Hughes was the right decision

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Mike Hughes
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Mike Hughes /

The Minnesota Vikings raised a few eyebrows on Thursday when they traded former first-round pick Mike Hughes to the Kansas City Chiefs.

During his first game with the Minnesota Vikings, things couldn’t have turned out much better for cornerback Mike Hughes.

The Vikings managed to get a win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 of the 2018 season, thanks in part to Hughes, who returned an interception touchdown early in the third quarter of the matchup.

After that game, however, Hughes’ career in the NFL has not gone the way that anyone had envisioned following Minnesota’s decision to select him with their first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Minnesota Vikings made the right call to trade Mike Hughes to the Kansas City Chiefs

Before tearing his ACL in the sixth game of his rookie season with the Vikings, Hughes appeared to be on track to be one of the franchise’s next great cornerbacks.

Prior to his rookie season, Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer praised the young corner for his ability to quickly adjust to the team’s defensive system. Rookie praise from Zimmer is not very common and rookie cornerback praise from the Vikings head coach is even rarer.

But ever since he went down clutching his knee during Minnesota’s Week 6 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, Hughes’ performance has never been the same.

When he returned from his knee injury in 2019, he did not display the same flashes of potential that he did as a rookie. Instead, Hughes was often seen getting beat by opposing wide receivers throughout the 2019 campaign.

Hughes actually ended up appearing in 14 games in 2019 before his season came to a close thanks to a neck injury. A neck injury also ended up being what prevented him from being on the field for more than four matchups in 2020.

So with two injuries to his neck within a year combined with his performance not being at a satisfying level for the Vikings’ coaching staff, the young corner was about to enter a training camp this summer in which he was likely going to have to fight for a roster spot.

Instead of giving him that opportunity, Minnesota ended Hughes’ time with the team on Thursday when they traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Vikings received a 2022 sixth-round draft pick from the Chiefs in exchange for Hughes, and based on this compensation, it feels like Minnesota was just looking to get almost anything they could in return for a guy who they were probably going to cut before the start of the 2021 season.

Some might look at the Vikings’ decision to trade Hughes as a mistake given the uncertainty currently surrounding Minnesota cornerback Jeff Gladney after his recent arrest. But even with Gladney potentially out of the picture, Hughes was still probably going to be a long shot to make the Vikings’ final 2021 roster.

So while Minnesota was only able to land a sixth-round pick for a guy they drafted in the first round just three years ago, it’s still more than the bottle of nothing they would have received if they cut him at the end of this year’s training camp.