In the past week, the Detroit Lions have overhauled their cornerback room, signing Emmanuel Moseley, Cameron Sutton and C.J. Gardner-Johnson to free agency deals. But with additions come subtractions, and the Lions lost one key player of their secondary to free agency on Monday night. Cornerback Mike Hughes officially signed a two-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons. Further contract details were not immediately available.
Hughes becomes the fifth Lions free agent to find a new home in 2023, joining safety DeShon Elliott (Dolphins), running back Jamaal Williams (Saints), center Evan Brown (Seahawks), and linebacker Chris Board (Patriots).
Hughes turned out to be a pretty decent value signing for the Lions last year. Detroit inked him to a one-year, $2.25 million deal in 2022. The fifth-year player would end up starting six games for the Lions. With the versatility to play both nickel and outsider cornerback, Hughes proved to be valuable depth. In fact, toward the end of the season, Hughes earned the starting outside corner gig over former third overall pick Jeff Okudah, who was benched after inconsistent play.
But there wasn’t much of a reason to bring Hughes back in 2023. Sutton brings the same inside/outside cornerback versatility and is an upgrade at both positions. With other versatile pieces in Gardner-Johnson and Will Harris aboard, bringing back Hughes would be both an overspend at the position and a disservice to Hughes himself. Now in Atlanta, Hughes has a clearer path to contributing and maybe even starting on the Falcons defense.