Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks cashed in Sunday after a strong partial season with the New England Patriots, as he signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Bears, the team announced.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, citing a source, reported Monday morning that the two-year deal is worth $10 million.
The New Orleans Saints made Hicks a third-round pick out of the University of Regina in 2012, but after parts of four seasons with the team, he was traded to the Pats three games into the 2015 campaign for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui.
Hicks went on to register 21 tackles and three sacks in 13 games for the Patriots as part of a highly effective defensive line rotation.
According to Matt Claassen of Pro Football Focus, Hicks performed better than ever during his time in New England despite serving primarily in a reserve role: "The move to New England really seemed to bring out the best of Hicks once he got settled in. He earned the highest overall grade of his career despite playing a part-time role, and had above-average grades in both run defense and pass-rushing for the first time of his career."
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Hicks previously started a total of 30 games in 2013 and 2014, accruing 105 tackles and 6.5 sacks between those two seasons.
With a solid track record to his credit, Hicks received plenty of interest on the open market. Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal reported that New England wanted to re-sign him, while ESPN.com's Mike Reiss pointed toward the Bears as a potential landing spot.
Chicago emerged as a sensible destination due to the fact that Bears general manager Ryan Pace was instrumental in the drafting of Hicks during his time with the Saints.
Hicks is still young at 26 years of age, and his versatility is a huge asset since he can play both defensive end and defensive tackle. He is also conceivably useful in either 3-4 or 4-3 schemes.
That made him a perfect fit for the Patriots, but keeping him wasn't in the cards considering how many high-profile, superstar players the organization must pay this year and beyond.
The Bears saw the window of opportunity and seized it by landing arguably one of the most underrated players on the market.
He has already excelled in two totally different atmospheres and defenses during his young career, so there is reason to believe he will do the same with his new team.
Chicago's front seven is suspect, to say the least, but with Hicks now in place to play alongside nose tackle Eddie Goldman, it is starting to build a strong front that could get the Bears back in contention a couple of years down the line.
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