Chicago Bears: Projecting Akiem Hicks next contract
Akiem Hicks is going to enter this offseason in a particular place. Hicks had an incredible six-year run with the Chicago Bears, but after injuries, and changes to the front office recently it appears as though the two will now go their separate paths.
Still, his next contract is worth monitoring. If he does not get a deal that he wants, he could come back to Chicago cheaply, and if he does get paid well, it will help with the compensatory formula. With that in mind, what is Akiem Hicks expected to get on the open market?
Akiem Hicks should look to Linval Joseph
If Akiem Hicks wants to get paid, the person he needs to look to is Linval Joseph. At age 33, no one is going to give Hicks a long-term deal, but Joseph was able to snag a two-year contract despite being 32 years old.
Linval Joseph signed a 2-year, $17M deal with $9.5M guaranteed. Hicks was making $12M in average salary for the Chicago Bears, but that contract was years ago, and he was banged up in 2021, which will hurt his market. With that in mind, he would likely be very happy to get a deal similar to Joseph.
Hicks can also point to the stats when making his case. Hicks missed time this year, but still played in 1,166 snaps between 2020-21. In the past two years, Joseph has played 1,276. That is more, but Hicks has 68 pressures to the 42 of Joseph, per PFF.
Hicks is the better pass rusher, but Joseph has 57 stops compared to 48 for Hicks over that span. Still, Hicks will be pointing at these numbers and showing teams that even in his 30s, he is playing like someone worth $9.
Could Akiem Hicks get Malik Jackson market?
The snaps are similar, but the injury list is much longer for Hicks than Joseph. Hicks is also a year older than Joseph when he signed that deal. Akiem Hicks may not get what Linval Joseph did, but the question is whether or not he will get a cold shoulder the way that Malik Jackson did.
Malik Jackson was just 31 years old when he signed a one-year, $3.75M deal with the Cleveland Browns. The issue for him was that in 2019 he suffered a season-ending injury, and in 2020 he was a part-time player as he got back to full health. To be fair, in 2021 he looked good, but the injury questions and age had him getting less than half of what Joseph did per year.
Hicks should take note. Due to injuries, Jackson played 1,183 snaps the past two seasons, which Is 17 more than Hicks. He does have 59 pressures and 33 stops, while Hicks had 68 and 48 over the same span and snap counts.
So, Hicks is clearly better when on the field.
Projecting Chicago Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks next contract
This one is not as easy because of his age and questions. There are far fewer similar examples. There also is a case to be made that he compares to a veteran on an $8.5M salary and a $3.75M salary.
The deal is going to be one or two years, but that will likely be down to the preference of Hicks. Hicks also may be willing to take closer to $4M if the team is ready to win the Super Bowl.
A near-even mark between the two deals would be a one-year, $6.25M deal. Hicks would likely seek for it to be guaranteed given it is only one -year, and that should not be an issue. Compared to what Hicks made last season, and over the course of his Bears career, this is a bit of a step back, but it is what should be expected from an aging veteran, who has injury questions and maybe particular about where he ends up rather than shooting for the big payday.
It will be good to look back and see what contract he gets and how it compares because if he does get less than this, you would hope that the Chicago Bears offered something like one year, $5 million to come back.