The Minnesota Vikings declined to pick up the fifth-year option on cornerback Mike Hughes, making a him a free agent after the 2021 season.
The deadline for NFL teams to pick up the option on players drafted in the first round in 2018 was Monday.
The Vikings drafted three cornerbacks last year: Jeff Gladney in the first round, Cameron Dantzler in the third round and Harrison Hand in the fifth round. Then they added two free agents at the position this spring: Patrick Peterson, the three-time All-Pro, and Mackensie Alexander, the team's 2016 second-round pick who returned after one season away.
Hughes becomes the fifth first-round draft pick to have his fifth-year option declined by the Vikings since the rookie contract structure began in 2011, joining wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and quarterback Christian Ponder. The Vikings have exercised those options on six players: cornerback Trae Waynes, linebacker Anthony Barr, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, offensive tackle Matt Kalil and safety Harrison Smith.
Hughes, selected No. 30 overall in the 2018 draft by the Vikings, had a pick-six in his first NFL game. However, injuries have limited him to just 24 games in three years, including only four in 2020.
Hughes played 14 games, with three starts, in 2019 and recorded 39 tackles, nine passes defensed, two forced fumbled and one interception. Hughes tore his ACL in 2018 and had a neck injury in 2020.
He's expected to be a full-go for the 2021 season, a year in which he'll be playing for a new contract -- in Minnesota or elsewhere.