Akiem Hicks, DE
Well, we already saw what happens when Akiem Hicks is not on the field. This scenario played out most of the 2019 season and it was not pretty. The Chicago Bears defense was still a top-10 unit in Defensive DVOA, but not nearly as efficient in areas that mattered like sacks and turnovers. Once Hicks went down, teams were able to double and triple-team Khalil Mack on a regular basis too. He has become the glue on the defensive line.
In his first three seasons for the Chicago Bears, Hicks finished with seven, 8.5 and 7.5 sacks. After two different injuries kept him off the field for most of 2019, Hicks only generated one sack in five games. In those five games though, he still brought four quarterback hurries, four quarterback knockdowns and fine pressures. That put him on pace to basically duplicate his 2018 numbers. Numbers that led to Hicks’ first Pro Bowl selection.
If Hicks decides to opt out of the 2020 season, the Chicago Bears offense better be ready to perform at a much greater level than it has the last two seasons if the team has any chance of making the playoffs. Otherwise, we should expect to see another season similar to 2019. A season filled with some close games, some tough wins, and even tragic losses. Then there will be a few disastrous losses and the team will float around .500 most of the season. Not good.