Falcons sign potential starting nickel defender in Mike Hughes

eck220925012 det v min

After hosting him on a visit, the Falcons are signing Mike Hughes to a two-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport.

Mike Hughes has been considered a slot specialist, beginning his career in Minnesota after being selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He was then traded to the Chiefs during the 2021 season, where he impressed on the boundary. So, he’s certainly a versatile defender. The UCF product then signed with the Lions in free agency, but his 2022 campaign was a bag of mixed results.

He appeared in 16 games for Detroit, in the slot initially and then outside on the boundary due to injuries; it wasn’t his best season. He hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status, but he fits a Falcons defense that needs a nickel corner. The fact that it’s a two-year deal is interesting. It tells me that he’s a part of the team’s longer term plans, depending on the contract structure.

Though he might not be a lockdown cover man, he’s a more than willing tackler and effective as a blitzer — necessary traits for a slot defender. He’s remained healthy over the last two seasons, is only 26 years old, and won’t break the bank; it makes some sense for the Falcons. Moreover, there is a connection, as Jerry Gray coached Hughes in Minnesota.

Atlanta could turn to an internal option like Dee Alford to roam the slot, but Mike Hughes provides a bit more experience in that scenario. At the very least, Hughes is competition for the starting nickel position.

Darren Hall, Dee Alford, and Cornell Armstrong are also potential options. Hughes has struggled at times, so this isn’t some home run signing that some are making it out to be. He’s an experienced and versatile defender that can provide depth in several areas while contributing at a high level on special teams.

With the Falcons picking #8 in the draft, this doesn’t take cornerback off the board for Terry Fontenot. The move solidifies a cornerback position that desperately needed a starting-caliber addition. The roster is rounding into form, and as the Falcons approach the draft, the holes will dwindle, setting up a best player available draft strategy.

Photographer: Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire


Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: