Chicago Bears Pro Bowl defensive lineman Akiem Hicks didn’t play in the team’s Week 18 season finale against the Minnesota Vikings, and now, courtesy of a report from insider Adam Jahns of The Athletic, we know why.
According to a January 9 report by Jahns, the 32-year-old had a “heated and ugly” exchange with defensive line coach Chris Rumph during Chicago’s Week 17 victory over the New York Giants, and he didn’t practice or play at all after the encounter.
Hicks, who established himself as one of the defense’s most feared and respected players, became a fan favorite over his six seasons with the team due to the passion and joy with which he played the game.
With his contract up at season’s end, based on Hicks’ latest Twitter activity, it’s looking like his days with the team are definitely done.
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Hicks ‘Likes’ Tweets Dissing Bears
The veteran defensive lineman clicked “like” on multiple tweets that paint the Bears and former head coach Matt Nagy in an unflattering light.
One was a post game quote courtesy of Darnell Mooney questioning the play-calling.
He also “liked” a gif that criticized Chicago’s inability to run the football:
And he “liked” another that said: “The Bears should be leading this game comfortably. They’re now losing.”
“You guys see me play, you can tell that I play with a lot of passion right?” Hicks told the media in December, via Jahns. “You can’t have that type of passion unless you really care and are truly invested, like with your heart and your feelings and stuff like that, you know?”
The veteran DL had made it known he wanted to retire a Bear, but he has missed 19 games over the last three seasons, and that, coupled with his age, made a contract extension unlikely anyway. Now, it’s looking like he’s leaving with a good deal of negative feelings.
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Bears Will Likely Look Very Different Next Season
With Nagy and GM Ryan Pace gone and several key players either slated for free agency or up for extensions, the Bears are going to look very different next season.
Starting linebacker Roquan Smith, defensive tackle Bilal Nichols and offensive lineman James Daniels are all up for extensions, with Smith the likeliest to get one.
Chicago will also have 30 free agents, 24 of which are unrestricted, per Spotrac. Those UFAs include Hicks, WR Allen Robinson, TE Jimmy Graham, QB Andy Dalton and Pro Bowl punt returner Jakeem Grant.
The coaching staff will also undoubtedly be full of new faces, making this one of the most crucial offseasons for the franchise in recent memory.
“The unfortunate reality of our business sometimes is that no matter what you do, no matter what situation you put yourself in, all good things come to an end,” Hicks said in December, via Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports, adding: “But what I can tell you now is, I’ve appreciated these last six years playing here in Chicago. I would challenge you to find another person on this team that has bled and fought and lived and died with this team the way that I have. Whatever comes from that, I accept, but as far as right now, I’m just ready to play some more football.”