Chicago Tribune: Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks signs 4-year contract extension with Bears
Hicks signed a four-year contract extension Saturday potentially worth $48 million with $30 million guaranteed, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed. The deal isn’t surprising because Hicks switched to agent Drew Rosenhaus this summer and negotiations kicked off at training camp.
ESPN first reported the agreement, and the Bears announced the extension through the 2021 season Saturday afternoon.
Hicks, 27, proved to be a strong addition last year when he signed a two-year, $10million contract after splitting the 2015 season between the Saints and Patriots. Hicks led Bears defensive linemen with 71 tackles and had seven sacks to go with five tackles for loss, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Hicks was the only defensive player on the team to start all 16 games in 2016. He stands out as the best free-agent addition the Bears have made over the last several years, a group that includes some modest successes and flops.
Hicks made it clear he wanted to remain in Chicago and in executing a deal before the season, he eliminates the risk of being injured while foregoing a potentially bigger pay day in March in free agency. Hicks will earn a base salary of $4 million this season and he already has received a $1 million roster bonus.
He was held out of practice last month with what coach John Fox termed an Achilles tendon issue, but Hicks said it was more of a heel injury. He has been back in action and looks ready to start Sunday in the season opener against the Falcons at Soldier Field.
The Bears signed guard Kyle Long to an extension in the week of the season opener last year — it’s a prime time for deals with players seeking security while minimizing injury risk. The Bears had more than $12 million in salary-cap room remaining for this season, but that figure likely will diminish some to account for Hicks’ reworked contract.
Originally, sources said Hicks was seeking a deal that would pay him $15 million per season, a figure that would rank him with the elite linemen in the NFL.
Both sides benefit from the extension: Hicks can play without the fear of being injured heading into free agency, and the Bears secured him at a lower price than he would have commanded on the open market if performance level had remained the same.
Source: Chicago Tribune
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