Bears Signing Potential Akiem Hicks Replacement to Huge Deal: Report

Larry Ogunjobi

Getty Larry Ogunjobi just inked a three-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Bears are signing former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Ogunjobi, 27, has missed just three games over the last four seasons and will be a huge addition to the team’s defensive line.

A  third-round (65th overall) pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2017, Ogunjobi spent his first four seasons with the Browns before playing for the Bengals in 2021. In 16 games last season, Ogunjobi had 49 total tackles (12 for loss), seven sacks and 16 QB hits. With the 32-year-old Akiem Hicks now a free agent, new Bears general manager Ryan Poles has inked a younger player to fill Hicks’ role on the defensive line — but Ogunjobi isn’t coming cheap.

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Bears Sign Ogunjobi to 3-Year, $40.5 Million Deal

As first reported by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Ogunjobi’s deal will be a big one: three years at $40.5 million with $26.35 million in guaranteed money.

The Bears had over $36 million in cap space before the signing, so they will still have money left to look for offensive linemen and wide receivers. Ogunjobi will average around $13 million a year.

While the Bears needed a big, reliable body to replace Hicks, not everyone loved the signing. PFF salary cap expert Brad Spielberger, like myriad Bears fans, would like to see the team shell out some ducats to fix a porous offensive line that led the NFL in sacks during the regular season with 58.

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A Look at Ogunjobi’s Stats & Injury History

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Ogunjobi turns 28 in June, and while he isn’t on the same level as Hicks in his prime, he’s younger and has a bit more upside. Ogunjobi is a disruptive force on the line, and he has a tendency to get into the backfield often. In 2021, he had 40 total pressures and 25 hurries, per PFF, and he has played at least 63% of his team’s defensive snaps in each of the last four seasons.

Check out a few highlights:

He has also shown an ability to take on — and at times shed — double teams:

Ogunjobi is also quick for his size, and he gets after the quarterback in a hurry:

Perhaps the most attractive thing about him is his clean injury history. He has played in 76 of a possible 81 games over his five seasons in the league, and while he suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Bengals’ wild-card win over the Las Vegas Raiders, Ogunjobi appeared optimistic about the future.

In his five seasons, the defensive tackle has amassed 229 total tackles (137 solo, 41 for loss), 53 QB hits, two forced fumbles and 21.5 sacks.

Considering the hefty sum of Ogunjobi’s contract, it’s fair to wonder if this signals the end of defensive lineman Bilal Nichols’ time in the Windy City, as well. Nichols, who is also a free agent, was thought to be a potential replacement for Hicks, but now, it’s looking like he’ll test the market and sign elsewhere instead.

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