The Detroit Lions found some veteran help for their back seven Monday, signing cornerback Mike Hughes and agreeing with linebacker Chris Board on one-year contracts.
Hughes’ deal is worth up to $3.5 million.
Hughes has a similar upside to Charles Harris, the former first-round pass rusher who signed with the Lions last spring after bouncing around the NFL his first four seasons.
Harris led the Lions with a career-high 7.5 sacks last fall, and signed a two-year, $14 million deal to stay in Detroit last week.
Hughes, a first-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2018, tore his ACL as a rookie and missed most of the 2020 season with neck injuries. The Vikings traded Hughes to the Kansas City Chiefs last spring, and Hughes responded with the most productive season of his career, intercepting one pass and forcing four fumbles while playing all 17 games.
In Detroit, Hughes, who has experience playing both outside and slot cornerback, could compete for a starting role. Amani Oruwariye returns as the Lions’ No. 1 cornerback and A.J. Parker started seven games in a nickel role, but Jeff Okudah (Achilles) and Jerry Jacobs (ACL) are rehabbing from season-ending injuries.
Lions coach Dan Campbell said at the NFL combine this month Okudah was on track for a summer return in his rehab. Jacobs, who was injured in December, is hoping for a training camp return as well.
Speaking of Okudah and Romeo Okwara, who also is coming off a torn Achilles, Campbell said, “As long as everything stays the course with their recovery then we should have them hopefully by training camp, at least on a limited basis, which would be good. So we’re hoping for the season on both of those guys if they’re ready.”
Hughes, 25, allowed a career-high five touchdown passes last season, according to Pro Football Reference, but limited opponents to a 59% completion percentage on passes thrown his way.
The Lions, who had one of the youngest secondaries in the NFL last season, also return Ifeatu Melifonwu, Bobby Price, Mark Gilbert, Parnell Motley and Saivion Smith — all 24 or younger — at the cornerback position.
Board, 26, has been a special-teams ace the past four seasons with the Ravens, and took on a bigger defensive role in 2020-21, when he played on third downs and in the red zone.
He had a career-high 41 tackles last season and is expected to compete with Derrick Barnes and Josh Woods for a starting linebacker job alongside Alex Anzalone.
The Lions also are expected to draft a linebacker.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.