Jordan Hicks, Cardinals Agree to 4-Year Contract Worth Reported $36 Million

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 21: Jordan Hicks #58 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field on October 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Veteran linebacker Jordan Hicks agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, the team announced Friday.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the contract is worth $36 million, including $20 million guaranteed. 

Hicks spent the last four years with the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected him in the third round of the 2015 draft. Although a calf injury kept him out for four games, the 2018 season was a career year for him.

The 26-year-old finished with 91 combined tackles, three sacks and five passes defended.

While Hicks opened the door for a return to Philadelphia, he also acknowledged he wanted to maximize his earning power, per Philly.com's Marc Narducci:

"This place holds a special place in my heart and we will see what happens. There are no guarantees and it is part of the business. ... You want to be somewhere you are wanted and you have to see the market and figure out what is to come. There is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of different things can happen, but I love this place, love Philly, love the players here, love the guys on the team."

The Eagles' salary-cap situation made it difficult to re-sign Hicks at market value. The team is $4.1 million under the cap in 2019, so executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has his hands tied.

One could argue Hicks' injury history is enough of a red flag and the Eagles were smart to let him walk regardless of their cap situation. He has missed a total of 21 games and only once played a full 16-game season.

When healthy, he is an effective defender. He had 85 combined tackles, one sack and five interceptions in 2016, the one year in which he didn't miss any time. He was by far the best inside linebacker on this year's free-agent market.

But the Texas product isn't getting any younger and it's fair to wonder whether the effects of his various injuries—the calf problem, a ruptured Achilles and a torn pectoral—start adding up. The Achilles rupture, in particular, is worrisome.

As long as he stays on the field, Hicks should make a big impact for the Cardinals in 2019. 

The 2018 season was largely a disaster for the Cardinals, who finished with the NFL's worst record (3-13) and fired first-year head coach Steve Wilks. The blame for the team's struggles didn't deserve to fall on the defense too much, though.

Arizona finished 17th in defensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders, and allowed 358.8 yards per game, good for 20th.

The Cardinals already upgraded their linebacking corps by signing Terrell Suggs, who remains a productive pass-rusher as he enters his 17th season. And with Hicks in tow, that unit is primed for a productive 2019 as the team embarks on a new era under the leadership of head coach Kliff Kingsbury. 

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