Akiem Hicks will begin his second Bears season Sunday, and it looks like the veteran defensive end will see many more Windy City openers. The Bears and Hicks agreed to a lucrative extension on Saturday, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reporting (via Twitter) it’s a four-year, $48MM contract.
Hicks will see $30MM in guaranteed money, Schefter reports. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported (on Twitter) a deal could be imminent, and within a minute, terms emerged. Hicks will now become by far the Bears’ highest-paid defender.
The Bears initially signed Hicks to a two-year, $10MM deal as a free agent last year. But Hicks’ second Chicago accord rockets him into the upper echelon of 3-4 defensive end contracts.
Only Muhammad Wilkerson, J.J. Watt and Jurrell Casey entered today making more per year than Hicks’ $12MM new-money average. The 27-year-old defender’s deal comes in comfortably ahead of the other eight-figure-per-year members — Mike Daniels, Corey Liuget and Cameron Heyward each make between $10.2-$10.6MM AAV. He and Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt — also extended today, for $12.2MM AAV — form their own tier in between these aforementioned levels.
A former third-round Saints pick in 2012, Hicks registered a career-high seven sacks last season. He was seeking $10MM per year and expressed desire to remain a Bear, entering what was set to be his contract campaign. But his camp did quite well in securing this agreement, going well north of that $10MM-AAV threshold. Hicks signed with Rosenhaus Sports earlier this summer to prepare for what turned out to be preseason negotiations.
Hicks rated as a top-flight interior defender, via Pro Football Focus, last season. The former Saint and Patriot’s deal is closer to those of higher-end 4-3 defensive tackle contracts than among players at his own position. PFR’s Connor Byrne assessed Hicks’ value this summer and mentioned deals on the Heyward/Daniels tier as Hicks’ realistic ballpark but did not discount a possibility of a pact in between those and the Jaguars-authorized contacts for Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell. Hicks’ deal falls south of Jackson and Campbell’s mammoth pacts but in front of the Giants’ Damon Harrison and Bengals Pro Bowler Geno Atkins‘ agreement.
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