Akiem Hicks has been the heart and soul of the Chicago Bears defense since his arrival in 2016, but he was still the subject of trade rumors this offseason. In March, top Bears insider Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported that “there were rumblings in league circles that Hicks could be available in a trade.” Biggs also noted the primary reason Chicago might consider parting ways with a defensive leader of Hicks’s caliber: “The team would save $10.5 million in cap space if it found a taker for the 31-year-old.”
Instead, the Bears let All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller walk, saving $11 million in cap space, and Hicks stayed put. Now, however, rumors the team may still possibly trade him have picked back up, with one prominent NFL insider revealing when this could happen.
The latest Bears news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Bears newsletter here!
Trade Talks ‘Could Heat Up Closer to Training Camp’
In a June 9 column for ESPN, analyst and insider Jeremy Fowler put Hicks on a list of the NFL’s top “future trade targets.” Fowler noted that while there have been no new developments with the veteran defensive lineman, that could potentially change in late July when training camp starts:
“Chicago has allowed Hicks and agent Drew Rosenhaus to gauge trade interest, as the Chicago Tribune reported in March” he wrote. “There are no recent developments here. For now, he’s still a Bear. Some teams believe Hicks is a top-five interior disruptor, but his age (31) could prevent them from giving up draft capital and signing him to a new deal. Hicks, a 2022 free agent, is due a total of $10.5 million this year. This one could heat up closer to training camp.”
Nothing happened the first time trade winds began blowing around Hicks, and if Chicago hasn’t parted ways with him by now, it’s hard to imagine the team letting him go at this point unless another team wants him badly.
Follow the Heavy on Bears Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest Bears-related breaking news, rumors, content and more!
Losing Hicks Would Leave Huge Void on Bears D-Line
The Bears added seventh-rounder Khyiris Tonga in the draft this year, which fans and analysts alike dubbed a steal, and they added Angelo Blackson in free agency, so they have addressed the defensive line this offseason. Bilal Nichols will eventually be a solid replacement for Hicks, but it’s his veteran leadership Chicago won’t be able to replace.
“He’s a big bully out there,” Bears defensive line coach Chris Rumph said about Hicks, via Gene Chamberlain of Sports Illustrated. “He’s a guy out there that’s like a big brother out there, that once he’s on the field with you, you sort of feel protected because big brother has your back. But he’s a guy that’s going to have to continue to get better, fundamentally, technique-wise.”
Hicks started 15 games last season after missing 11 the year prior with an ugly elbow injury. He had a bit of a down year sack-wise, netting just 3.5, and his 66.0 overall rating from PFF was his lowest as a Bear. That said, he still managed to live in opponents’ backfields for much of the season, accumulating 50 pressures, 30 hurries and 16 quarterback hits.
If Chicago does decide to let Hicks go, it better be for a king’s ransom, because his presence in the Windy City has been nothing short of regal.