Akiem Hicks Makes Major Decision About Future With Bears: Report

Akiem Hicks Bears extension

Getty Akiem Hicks has made a decision about his future with the Chicago Bears, according to Adam Schefter.

Akiem Hicks wants to be a member of the Chicago Bears for the remainder of his time in the NFL.

According to top NFL insider Adam Schefter, Hicks’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is in Chicago and has approached the team hoping for an extension for the veteran defensive lineman, who “wants to finish his career with the Bears, if possible.”

Hicks, who is entering his 10th NFL season, turns 32 in November, and after his 2019 campaign was cut short by an elbow injury, he came back with a vengeance in 2020. His sack total was down slightly (3.5 on the season), but he was a steady presence in opponents’ backfields, netting 30 quarterback hurries, 16 QB hits and 50 pressures, per Pro Football Focus.

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Extending Hicks Will Be a Huge, Complicated Decision for Bears

Hicks was the subject of trade rumors this offseason, but Chicago decided to part ways with veteran All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller and keep Hicks around. Extending the stalwart defensive lineman won’t be an easy decision for the Bears, who have other key players — players who are younger and a bit more integral to the future of the franchise. If Chicago wants to keep the likes of Allen Robinson, Roquan Smith and Bilal Nichols — the latter of whom could be Hicks’ replacement — extending Hicks may not be possible.

Using Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward as an example, salary cap expert Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus noted he doubted the Bears can match an offer similar to what Heyward received.

The Steelers gave Heyward — who is 32 — a four-year, $65.6 million contract extension last year, per Spotrac, and with $38,180,574 in estimated available cap space next season, Spielberger has a solid point.

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Hicks Wouldn’t Be Easily Replaced

Ever since his arrival in 2016, Hicks has been a leader on the line and one of the cornerstones of Chicago’s defense. If the Bears choose to let him walk, Nichols is a solid replacement, but very few players in the league are capable of filling the underrated Hicks’ shoes.

“The first thing you see is his size,” Bears first-year defensive line coach Chris Rumph said about Hicks in May, via the team’s official website.

“He’s a big bully out there. He’s a guy 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. He has to understand he has a name out there now, so people are going to target him and offensive coordinators are going to make sure they have a plan to block him and make sure he’s covered up. So, he’s going to have to understand that, and we’re going to have to be strategic in what we do and how we use him.”

Hicks’ age isn’t going to do him any favors here, but if he’s willing to agree to, say, a reduced salary of around $10 million per year and a contract with no guarantees beyond the 2022 season, the Bears may be able to keep him around. We’ll see what happens, but the ball is clearly in Chicago’s court now.

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