Akiem Hicks joining Bucs after 6 years with Bears

After six years as one of the Bears’ most dominant players — when healthy — Akiem Hicks is heading to Tampa Bay.

The defensive lineman is signing a one-year deal to join Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, a source confirmed Tuesday. The contract could be worth up to $10 million.

Hicks was never expected to return to Chicago, and seemed to come to terms with that fact during the course of last season after trying, unsuccessfully, to sign an extension during training camp. The ending was messy. Hicks did not travel to Minnesota for the season finale. Instead, he spent time on Twitter clicking “like” on posts critical of the Bears.

Hicks, who turns 33 in November, didn’t fit the rebuilding Bears’ timeline under a new regime.

One of former general manager Ryan Pace’s best free-agent finds, Hicks signed a two-year, $10 million deal to join the Bears in 2016 after a midseason trade split his 2015 season between the Saints, who drafted him, and the Patriots.

In his first year with the Bears, he posted what was then a career high of seven sacks. He was so dominant that Pace gave him a four-year, $48 million extension in September 2017. He earned his only Pro Bowl berth the following season as the emotional leader of the NFL’s best defense.

After playing in every game his first three seasons in Chicago, Hicks was limited to five games in 2019 after dislocating his elbow in London against the Raiders. He played in only nine games last season because of groin and ankle injuries.

“I would challenge you to find another person on this team that has bled and fought and lived and died with this team the way that I have,” he said in December. “Whatever comes from that, I accept.”

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