Most of Hicks’ guarantee comes in the form of a $1MM signing bonus, a guaranteed $1MM base salary for 2016, and a $3MM roster bonus due later this month. The defensive lineman also has up to $700K in annual playing-time and sacks incentives, plus an annual $250K in Pro Bowl incentives.
SUNDAY, 9:12pm: The Bears and free agent defensive lineman Akiem Hicks have agreed to a two-year contract, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Financial details are not yet available.
Hicks is the third significant front seven addition the Bears have made this week, joining linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. The four-year veteran has been a role player throughout his career (33 starts, 9.5 sacks in 61 games), but he’s coming off a breakout season with the Patriots. After the Pats acquired him from New Orleans last fall, Hicks totaled three sacks in 13 regular-season games and earned positive marks for his performance from Pro Football Focus. The site (subscription required) ranked Hicks as its 14th-best D-tackle and awarded him high grades for the pass-rushing and run-stopping abilities he displayed. The 26-year-old is likely to serve primarily as an end in Chicago, which differs from New England in running a 3-4 base defense.
Hicks entered the NFL as a third-round pick in 2012, when current Bears general manager Ryan Pace and personnel director Josh Lucas were members of the Saints’ front office. By adding Hicks, the Bears have kept him from the NFC North rival Lions – who were reportedly “working to secure” Hicks as of Friday. The 318-pounder subsequently visited the Bears, who were able to beat out Detroit for his services.
With Hicks, Trevathan and Freeman in the fold, the Bears’ defense looks much more formidable on paper than last year’s unit, which finished 14th in the league in yardage, 20th in points and a horrid 31st in DVOA during a 6-10 campaign.
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