Longtime Bears tackle Akiem Hicks to sign with Tampa Bay

After six seasons in Chicago, former Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hicks, 32, is expected to sign a one-year, $10 million contract with the Bucs, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Hicks is expected to take over the spot on the Bucs' defensive line that Ndamukong Suh previously handled.

The move away from Chicago doesn't necessarily come as a surprise. Hicks had wanted a new contract with the Bears last summer. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, visited Lake Forest at least twice during training camp last season to try and work out a new deal with former general manager Ryan Pace. Hicks made about $12 million last season, the final year of his contract, but the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on an extension.

When new GM Ryan Poles traded Khalil Mack and signaled the team was in a transition phase, it all but cemented the fact that Hicks would not return in 2022.

Hicks, a California native, was a 2012 third-round draft pick by the New Orleans Saints coming out of the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada. He spent parts of four seasons with the Saints before being traded to New England in September 2015. The following offseason, Hicks signed a two-year contract with the Bears.

It proved to be one of Pace's best free agent acquisitions. Hicks had 7 sacks and 11 tackles for loss during his first season in Chicago in 2016. He was rewarded with a four-year extension worth $48 million, which ran through the 2021 season.

Over his six seasons in Chicago, Hicks started 77 games. He recorded 31 sacks, 51 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles and 5 fumble recoveries. He was a huge reason why the Bears had one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2018. He earned his lone Pro Bowl selection that season.

He battled injuries for much of the 2019 and 2021 seasons, which kept him off the field for long stretches.

By signing with Tampa Bay, Hicks lands with a team that is poised to return to the playoffs again and push for another Super Bowl with Tom Brady back at quarterback. Hicks will likely line up next to nose tackle Vita Vea in the Bucs' 3-4 defensive scheme.

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