Akiem Hicks has finally spoken.
The Chicago Bears defensive lineman hadn’t talked to the media since the team’s 2020 season ended, and after an offseason filled with rumors that he could potentially be traded, the veteran has ended his silence in an interview with Bears sideline reporter Mark Grote on 670 The Score September 14.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last month that the 32-year-old’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was in Chicago at the time trying to get a contract extension that would keep his client in Chicago until he chose to retire. No deal has gotten done yet, but Hicks has now officially made his intentions known.
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Hicks Explains Recent Silence, Wants to Retire a Bear
“I know that there’s been talk about me not speaking for months at a time,” Hicks told Grote.
“Going into training camp, I think for me I’ve wanted to focus on the celebration of this moment in my career. No matter what I said, no matter how I phrased my intention on being a Bear for the rest of my career, that’s what I want, that’s what I feel is right for me. I’ve just had so many joy-filled moments as a Chicago Bear. I can’t see myself in another jersey. I think for me, less battle about contract situations and just enjoying this space.”
When asked if he wants to retire a Chicago Bear, Hicks didn’t hesitate, although his answer makes you wonder what the Bears will offer him — if anything.
“I think I’ll do everything in my power to do so,” he said.
He also suggested it wasn’t all about the money for him when it comes to playing football. “All that contract [talk] goes away when you’re out there doing that thing you love,” Hicks added, per Jason Lieser of the Sun-Times
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Bears May Be Parting Ways With Some Veterans Next Year
Hicks has been an absolute beast on the d-line since he was acquired in 2016. An ugly elbow injury limited his 2019 campaign to five games, but he has started 15+ games every other season he has been with the Bears. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018, and he was back to harassing quarterbacks last year, finishing the season with 49 total tackles (seven for loss), 3.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, 21 QB hits, 30 hurries, 50 total pressures and an overall grade from Pro Football Focus of 66.0 — his lowest grade as a Bear by over 10 points.
In 2018, Hicks had eight sacks, 33 hurries, 10 QB hits and 51 pressures and an overall grade of 91.7 from PFF. He was effective last year, but following the 2019 elbow injury — and considering his age and contract status — you have to wonder if the Bears will choose to bring him back.
Hicks is in the last year of the four-year, $48 million contract extension he signed with Chicago back in 2017. He’s an unrestricted free agent next year, but if he’s looking for anything close to the $10.4 million base salary he has this year, he’s likely to be disappointed.
The Bears are going to be able to get out from under several huge veteran contracts much easier in 2022, and Over the Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald thinks they’ll do just that — and unless Hicks agrees to play for a lot less, this may be his swan song with the Bears, because they’re very likely not going to re-sign him unless he’s far cheaper than he’s been.